Jeans giant Levi Strauss & Co has decided to keep its Dockers casual clothing brand, after a five-month attempt to sell it stalled over a disagreement on price.

The San Francisco firm said on Monday it would ultimately benefit from keeping the popular Dockers label alongside its Levi's and Levi Strauss Signature brands.

Levi Strauss decided in May to sell its casual-pants business in order to pay off some of its $2 billion in debt and focus on its key Levi Strauss brand. But it said it would sell only if a good enough offer was received.

Dockers, which generated $1.4 billion in revenue last year, attracted bidders including New York-based buyout firm Vestar Capital Partners and apparel industry mogul Eric Rothfeld.

Perry Ellis International, sourcing group Li & Fung and private-equity company Perseus were also rumoured to have been discussing an estimated $800 million acquisition deal for Dockers.

Levi's chief executive officer, Phil Martineau said in an interview after Monday's announcement: "There has been a high level of interest in the Dockers business by prospective buyers.

"After carefully considering the numerous sales offers and terms we received, and reflecting upon our improved financial performance this year, we have chosen to keep the Dockers business."

He added: "…the comprehensive sales exploration process we've been through during the past several months has enabled us to identify a number of opportunities that we believe will make the brand more profitable and successful."

In its most recent quarterly filing, Levi Strauss & Co reported a third-quarter profit of $46.6 million, reversing a net loss of $4.3m for the same period in 2003.

Levi's chief financial officer, Jim Fogarty added: "During the first nine months of this fiscal year, we've generated $50m in net income, managed a healthy 43.8 per cent gross margin and reduced our net debt by $100m.

"We have a healthier base of business and a stronger balance sheet."