Lululemon names new CEO; founder Chip Wilson to step down

VANCOUVER (REUTERS) - High-end yoga-wear retailer Lululemon Athletica has named Ms Lauren Potdevin as its chief executive and said founder Chip Wilson will step down as non-executive chairman.

Lululemon has been looking for a new CEO since June, when Ms Christine Day said she would step down once a replacement was found.

Ms Potdevin will take over in January from Ms Day, who was behind Lulu's blistering growth rate and its transition from yummy mummy niche to broader, multi-sport appeal. Ms Potdevin joins from TOMS Shoes and has earlier worked with Burton Snowboards and LVMH.

The Vancouver-based company was hit with a US lawsuit in July, accusing it of defrauding shareholders by hiding defects in yoga pants whose sheerness led to a recall, and concealing talks that led to the sudden departure of its chief executive.

Lululemon, which recalled its popular black luon yoga pants in March because they were too see-through, recently also faced new customer complaints that some products were too susceptible to pilling - the small, unsightly balls of fibres that form on fabric from wear and tear.

Mr Wilson, who founded the company in 1998 and owns 8.84 per cent shares according to Reuters data, is known to court controversy. He caused a furore last month when he said Lululemon products were wrong for certain body shapes.

In the past, Mr Wilson said he chose the name "Lululemon" because L is not in the Japanese vocabulary. "It's funny to watch them try to say it," he said in a 2004 profile in the National Post Business magazine.

Mr Michael Casey, a former Starbucks executive and lead director of Lululemon's board for the past six years, will take over as chairman.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.