NEW YORK, United States — Lululemon Athletica is having a Zen moment. After two tough years, the company known for yoga wear is enjoying a rebound in sales and chief executive officer Laurent Potdevin is optimistic that Lululemon can keep the momentum going.
The company has benefited from the shift in athletic wear becoming everyday fashion. But lots of other brands want part of those sales, from Victoria’s Secret to Gap to H&M.
Potdevin has set ambitious goals: to double sales to $4 billion by 2020, push innovation in products like swimwear and menswear, add more stores in North America and catch up in e-commerce. Lululemon, which has nearly 400 stores globally in the US, Europe, Asia, Australia and elsewhere, wants 20 percent to 25 percent of its total sales to come from outside the US by 2020.
The company is going back to taking risks following a major product hitch in 2013 that cost the company millions and sent the stock tumbling. Lululemon recalled thousands of its stretchy black yoga pants after customer complaints that they were too sheer. The issue cost chief executive officer Christine Day her job. Then, founder Chip Wilson resigned as chairman after suggesting some women’s bodies were not made for Lululemon’s clothing.
Potdevin, who took the helm in January 2014, has been rebuilding. The company has relaunched its website. Its clothing is now all electronically tagged, allowing Lululemon to better track inventory and shoppers to use the app to check whether items are in stock at a particular store. The company also revamped its store wall of yoga pants with new fabrics and organised them by how they feel — relaxed, naked, hugged, held-in and tight.
Potdevin, wearing a Lululemon white shirt and pants, recently spoke with The Associated Press about where the company is headed. His comments have been edited for length.
Get the interview on BUSINESS OF FASHION