Lululemon names new CEO; founder to step down as chairman
Vancouver, British Columbia -- Lululemon Athletica Inc. on Tuesday named Laurent Potdevin as CEO, and also announced founder Chip Wilson will step down as non-executive chairman. Potdevin, most recently president of Toms Shoes, will replace Lululemon’s current CEO, Christine Day, in January, and will also become a director at that time. Prior to Toms, he served as president and CEO of Burton Snowboards from 2005 – 2010.
“After a thorough search, Laurent emerged as the natural choice to lead our continued growth and global expansion," said Michael Casey, lead director of the company’s board of directors and member of the CEO search committee. "We believe Lululemon will benefit from Laurent's leadership experience and proven track record of success in building global brands. He has more than two decades of experience at premium, technical athletic apparel, and lifestyle-centric retail companies, and his shared passion for driving innovative, community-focused brands makes him an excellent cultural fit for Lululemon. 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."
The announcement come as the women’s yoga-wear retailer tries to regain its footing after a major product quality issue resulted in a lawsuit and some other gaffes, including public remarks by Wilson that not all women’s bodies are a good fit for Lululemon’s yoga pants. His remarks caused widespread condemnation and also a significant drop in the company’s stock price.
Lululemon’s current CEO announced her decision to resign in June 2013, but said she would stay until a successor was found.
Wilson, who founded Lululemon in 1998 and owns about 9% of the company, will step down as non-executive chairman prior to Lululemon's annual meeting in June. Wilson, who will remain on the board, is being replaced by Michael Casey, lead director of the board.