If true character really is revealed in the face of adversity, millions of lululemon loyalists were sorely disappointed with what they saw from the beleaguered brand in 2013. Considering the string of dubious Chip Wilson comments and PR pratfalls, the yoga-inspired athletic brand had a very bad year indeed. A much-publicized product recall and botched correction caused supply chain delays, late inventory and quality complaints. Major changes resulted, most notably the departure of founder Wilson and CEO Christine Day. Although much of 2013 was spent in damage control, lululemon managed to open new stores in North America and a showroom in Hong Kong, as well as diversified product offerings with new swimming and ballet lines for women, and cycling and running lines for men. Did the pressures of maintaining its meteoric rise cause lululemon to behave like less exceptional retailers? Can it recover and resume its unique course of self-exploration? It may come down to lululemon’s ability to believe in its own inspirational culture – something that was instrumental in its ascension. The personality of Lululemon does not reside solely in its senior leadership. It is deeply entrenched in the teams working at store level. In the communities the brand serves. And in the loyal customers who draw so much inspiration from the brand. We’re hopeful that new CEO Laurent Potdevin will read those hallmark messages of inspiration that appear at various touchpoints. As one of them teaches, “Life is full of setbacks. Success is determined by how you handle them.”
Percentage change based on 2012 valuation