News Feature | February 6, 2015

lululemon Founder Chip Wilson Leaves Company

Source: Innovative Retail Technologies

By Brianna Ahearn, contributing writer

lululemon Found Leaves

lululemon, a retailer of yoga and athletic apparel, is about to have a new leader. Chip Wilson, founder of lululemon, resigned from the company's board this week, announcing he would be leaving now that the retailer had returned to its “core values of product, brand and culture.” The news came via a statement released by the company.

2012 saw Wilson leaving day to day operations when he vacated his position as Chief Innovation and Branding Officer to take a sabbatical in Australia. Wilson resigned as chairman of the board in 2013 but still worked as a director until this month. He founded the company in 1998, growing the company from a single small store in Vancouver to a chain with over 200 stores located internationally. He came back to work with the board when the company was forced to recall 17% of its popular pants due to the fabric being too sheer and revealing when worn. As a result, the company's stock dropped sharply, but now it seems they're on their way back again.

“Upon returning from Australia, I saw that the company had lost its way and was driven by the wrong values. Trying to affect a fundamental shift in direction is hard and I had to raise a strong voice to make myself heard while taking decisive action to implement change. I am happy to say that I now believe the company has returned to the core values that made it great – product, brand and culture – and is back on track,” says Wilson in the statement.

Wilson came back to the company to help them realign lululemon back to its original values, helping to add two new board members, secure a corporate governance review, and create a strong management team.

Says Wilson about his departure, "I have achieved the goals I set when I came back, and after careful thought, I believe that now is the right time to step away from the board. I leave behind a new and talented management team and new board construct. By stepping away from lululemon I will now have more opportunity to work with my wife and son as they grow their new business, Kit & Ace. I am so excited for Kit & Ace because it is where street clothing is going. Shannon and JJ have caught the next wave."  Kit and Ace is a luxury apparel company featuring machine-washable cashmere clothing with seven locations in North America.

Laurent Potdevin has been named as the new Chief Executive Officer of lululemon. Potdevin comes to the helm after the previous CEO, Christine Day, stepped down in February 2014. He previously worked at LVMH Moet-Hennessy-Louis Vuitton, Burton Snowboards, and most recently, as CEO of TOMS Shoes.

“I am excited and honored to be joining lululemon," said Laurent Potdevin. "It is an exceptional brand with an extraordinary team that creates technical, beautiful products, and builds authentic consumer experiences. The tremendous success of this company to date and the potential for future growth are both exciting and inspiring. I look forward to working with everyone at lululemon to continue to build and drive the brand forward,” says Potdevin in a statement.