Vancouver—After a series of embarrassing gaffes, Lululemon Athletica Inc. hopes a new regime will put the mishaps behind the yoga wear retailer. Today, the company announced a new chief executive officer and revealed that Chip Wilson, chairman and founder would be stepping down.
Assuming the chief executive role in January from Christine Day, will be Laurent Potdevin, who was most recently president at TOMS Shoes.
“We believe Lululemon will benefit from Laurent’s leadership experience and proven track record of success in building global brands,” said Michael Casey, leader director of the board who will replace Wilson. “Additionally, his deep understanding of the importance of top-quality technical design, retail marketing strategies, and the power of building a strong brand provides him with the tools we believe are necessary to lead our next exciting phase of growth.”
Execs Has Jeopardized Customer Relationships?
Prior to TOMS, Potdevin held various positions at Burton Snowboards, including president and CEO after starting his career at LVMH.
Lululemon’s top executives got into hot water earlier this year with a quality problem with black yoga pants, which accounted for 17% of sales, when customers complained they were see-through.
Then Wilson, who will remain on the board, was the target of customer rage and social media ire for saying in a TV interview that “some women’s bodies just actually don’t work” in the retailer’s popular yoga pants.
One of Potdevin’s first jobs will be to shore up supply chain problems that caused the multimillion-dollar pants recall, fend off tough competition and shore up Lululemon’s reputation.
“This company has jeopardized its long-term relationship with its customers over the last year, via some product quality issues, via some board communication by the founder,” said Credit Suisse analyst Christian Buss. “What I’ll be looking for are signs they can re-engage their customers in a positive way.”
In September, Lululemon lowered its full-year earnings and revenue forecasts after second quarter profit slipped 1.3% to $56.5 million on issues around the defective yoga pants.