January 7, 2012

Breaking News: Lululemon founder Chip Wilson resigns as Chief Innovation & Branding Officer.

Wealthy, successful Chip Wilson, Chief Innovation & Branding Officer and founder of lululemon resigns following a rocky six months.

“I heard a lot of senior ambassadors were threatening to quit.” ~ a yoga teacher.

Does this have something to do with the recent controversy regarding Chip’s enthusiastic over-sharing (Atlas Shrugged books on shelves in every store, tote bags inviting customers to inquire further into Ayn Rand’s political and social philosophy)?

As I did on Huffington Post and with a fledgling elephant a few years back when it came to John Mackey of Whole Foods…we at elephant spearheaded a great deal of this reporting until it became a mainstream news story, and kept at it—we did it with respect, diverse points of view and self-inquiry. And I still don’t view his over-sharing as a bad thing—just something that required community discussion and introspection.

Still, to me, the best thing lululemon could do is make their wares in Canada or the US, pay a fair wage in fair working conditions, continue to use far more organic fabrics, and institute a recycling program along the lines of Patagonia. Because if our yoga looks good on the mat but, once off it doesn’t walk its talk…well, that’s just ugly. ~ ed.

PS: they’ve gotta feel good about their recent gone-viral Sh*t Yogis Say—nearly a million viewers on a more or less free commercial.

All we have at this time is the internal press release. Updates will be added here as they come. If you know more, please contact us. If you’d like to write something, add your respectful perspective, please contact us.

Lululemon founder Chip Wilson steps down from management, will stay on board

By Sunny Freeman, The Canadian Press  | January 06, 2012

Lululemon Athletica Inc.’s influential founder Chip Wilson is in the final stretch of his management role at one of Canada’s most successful retailers.

Vancouver-based Lululemon (TSX:LLL) said in a brief release late Friday that Wilson, who founded the trendy yoga-inspired retailer in 1998, plans to resign as chief innovation and branding officer effective Jan. 29.

But he will stay on as chairman of the company’s board of directors.

Wilson, 55, said he feels comfortable leaving the company in the hands of chief executive officer Christine Day, who was recently named Report on Business magazine’s CEO of the year.

“I remain deeply committed to the company’s continued success and given the strength we’ve built into the organization over the past three years, I feel comfortable leaving the company with Christine Day at the helm of a world class management team whom I fully believe will continue to elevate our world,” Wilson said in a statement.

After an early career as founder and CEO of a surf-skate and snowboard clothing company, Wilson created Lululemon and ran every facet of the company as it grew rapidly into an international retailer.

In the Canadian Business magazine annual survey of the richest Canadians, Wilson was the fastest rising climber on the Rich 100 list in 2011, jumping to 15 from 49 in 2010.

Wilson, a University of Calgary economics graduate, owns about 10 per cent of Lululemon, a company with a current stock value of about $5.6 billion.

Day said the laidback, community-oriented and self-motivational culture that Wilson created will continue at the company, which has branded itself as not only a clothing brand but a lifestyle choice.

“Chip has created a legacy that has inspired the world and the mantle of leadership and care for the culture, values and mission of Lululemon is now in our hands,” she said.

“I am proud to be leading Lululemon and excited about our future.”

Lululemon, a household name in its native Canada, is growing in popularity in the United States and Australia, where the company continues to open new stores.

While other specialty clothing retailers struggle in a tough economy, Lululemon has consistently boosted quarterly profits and revenues.

It operates on a scarcity model that leaves its customers hungry for its fashionable and form-fitting athletic wear and accessories that often disappear from shelves.

Lululemon has said several times that it plans to fix its inventory troubles as it struggles to keep up with demand. But that short supply also means it can avoid end-of-season markdowns.

The company’s stock has been soaring as it delivers quarter upon quarter of results that beat analysts expectations.

However, even though its profit rose 51 per cent to US$38.8 million in its most recent quarter, its shares took a beating as revenue came in at US$230.2 million, below the US$235.7 million they expected.

The company said it expects revenue in its fiscal fourth quarter will be even higher, rising to a range of US$327 million to US$332 million _ putting the company on track to do better for the full year than it had previously anticipated.

It also estimated diluted earnings per share will be in a range of 40 cents to 42 cents per share in the fourth quarter.

Lululemon opened its first store in 1998 in Vancouver and has expanded to 151 stores in the past decade.

Shares in the company, which made the announcement after markets closed on Friday, added 3.9 per cent or $2.05 to close at $55.12 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

The company’s shares (NYSE:LULU) were down two per cent or $1.07 to US$52.61 in after-hours trading on Wall Street.

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