OPERATIONS

Lululemon CEO Christine Day to step down; hunt on for replacement

BY Marianne Wilson

Vancouver, British Columbia — Lululemon Athletica Inc. on Monday said that its CEO, Christine Day, will step down when a successor is named. The announcement comes some three months after Lululemon, in an embarrassing and very costly snafu, had to pull 17% of its trademarked Luon pants from its store shelves after they were found to be too sheer.

"Being a part of Lululemon for the past five and a half years has been an incredible journey,” Day said in a statement. I am proud of building a world class team that has produced one of the best growth, brand and profit stories in retail. Plans have been laid for the next five years and a vision set for the next ten. Now is the right time to bring in a CEO who will drive the next phase of Lululemon’s development and growth.”

Day said that she would continue to actively lead the company while the board searches for a new CEO and would help with a smooth transition.

“Christine has been an exceptional leader for Lululemon, successfully embracing the culture while growing the business and returning value to all of our stakeholders including our guests, employees, partners and shareholders," said Chip Wilson, chairman of the Lululemon board of directors. “I am confident that we will find the right person to lead this strong team and continue to build on this excellent foundation."

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Former Talbots exec heads to the Wet Seal

BY CSA STAFF

FOOTHILL RANCH, Calif. — The Wet Seal has appointed retail veteran Lesli Gilbert to the position of EVP, stores and operations. She replaces Barbara Cook, who resigned as the company’s SVP of store operations in February.

“We are pleased to welcome Lesli and believe she is an ideal fit with Wet Seal’s business, brand positioning and organizational culture," said CEO John Goodman. "Lesli will take responsibility for leading our field organization and store teams, inspiring the vision and values of our Wet Seal and Arden B brands in stores and driving consistent execution. We look forward to her contributions as we continue to pursue our fast fashion strategies and position the business to achieve consistent, long-term growth.”

Most recently, Gilbert was SVP of stores at the Talbots, Inc., where she was responsible for developing the stores strategy and framework to reposition the business. Prior to Talbots, she held various general management positions with responsibility for leading sales, marketing, training and customer service with T-Mobile US and Gap. Earlier in her career, she held regional and district sales manager positions with Charlotte Russe, Discovery Channel, Sunglass Hut International and the Limited.

The Wet Seal operates 526 stores in 47 states and Puerto Rico, including 464 Wet Seal stores and 62 Arden B stores.

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Retail Goes South

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Hordes of spend-happy young Mexican shoppers are successfully attracting specialty apparel retailers from the U.S. and Europe – and, as mentioned in a recent report by Wall Street Journal, Walmart is feeling the pain.

Spanish teen retailer Zara has the biggest foothold in Mexico, with 246 stores, and the success of the Inditex-owned chain (plus relaxed tariffs on imported apparel) has prompted U.S. fashion stalwarts Gap, American Eagle Outfitters and Forever 21 – along with Swedish counterpart H&M – to jump on the south-of-the-border bandwagon. Just since last September, the four have opened stand-alone stores in Mexico, providing clothing options for the country’s younger, hipper shoppers – and chipping away at Wal-Mart de Mexico’s slipping sales results.

While Mexico’s retail landscape has plenty of obstacles – knock-offs and stolen goods are big business in the country, and will surely erode outsiders’ sales potential – it’s clear that Mexico is now a priority at least among the youth-oriented chains. AEO chief Robert Hanson told WSJ that his chain’s Mexican sales could top the $300 million it does in Canada. “You have to go where the opportunity is,” he told the paper.


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