December 26, 2000, 9:55 AM

Web spending too rugged for Levi`s

Just a year after Levi Strauss & Co. opened its Web store and shut out all other online sales, the duke of denim has pulled the plug. The company’s decision to transfer online sales to Macy’s and J.C. Penney points to new partnerships manufacturers should strike with retailers to get a cut of online sales, says Tom Reynolds, national director of the retail practice at Ernst & Young. “Manufacturers just aren’t equipped to do direct sales.”

A Levi’s spokesman says the company was pleased with Web sales but decided that heavy online investments should be spent otherwise. Levi’s has been working to reverse declining revenues.

Deals with other retailers could follow, but Macy’s isn’t looking over its shoulder. Its Web store began stocking Levi’s almost immediately. “We’re happy to be a retail partner for this powerful brand,” says Kent Anderson, president of Macy’s.com.

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