Lululemon names new CEO; founder to step down as chairman
Vancouver, British Columbia — Lululemon Athletica Inc. on Tuesday named Laurent Potdevin as CEO, and also announced founder Chip Wilson will step down as non-executive chairman. Potdevin, most recently president of Toms Shoes, will replace Lululemon’s current CEO, Christine Day, in January, and will also become a director at that time. Prior to Toms, he served as president and CEO of Burton Snowboards from 2005 – 2010.
“After a thorough search, Laurent emerged as the natural choice to lead our continued growth and global expansion," said Michael Casey, lead director of the company’s board of directors and member of the CEO search committee. "We believe Lululemon will benefit from Laurent’s leadership experience and proven track record of success in building global brands. He has more than two decades of experience at premium, technical athletic apparel, and lifestyle-centric retail companies, and his shared passion for driving innovative, community-focused brands makes him an excellent cultural fit for Lululemon. Additionally, his deep understanding of the importance of top-quality technical design, retail marketing strategies, and the power of building a strong brand provides him with the tools we believe are necessary to lead our next exciting phase of growth."
The announcement come as the women’s yoga-wear retailer tries to regain its footing after a major product quality issue resulted in a lawsuit and some other gaffes, including public remarks by Wilson that not all women’s bodies are a good fit for Lululemon’s yoga pants. His remarks caused widespread condemnation and also a significant drop in the company’s stock price.
Lululemon’s current CEO announced her decision to resign in June 2013, but said she would stay until a successor was found.
Wilson, who founded Lululemon in 1998 and owns about 9% of the company, will step down as non-executive chairman prior to Lululemon’s annual meeting in June. Wilson, who will remain on the board, is being replaced by Michael Casey, lead director of the board.
Former Toms president steps into CEO role at Lululemon
Lululemon has named former Toms president Laurent Potdevin as the company’s CEO and elected him to its board of directors. Potdevin succeeds Christine Day, who has served as the company’s CEO since 2008 and announced her intention to resign in June 2013.
Potdevin will become a director when he assumes his duties as CEO in January 2014. Day is expected to remain with Lululemon through the end of the company’s fiscal year to ensure a smooth transition.
The company also announced that Lululemon’s founder and chairman of the board Chip Wilson is stepping down as non-executive chairman prior to the company’s annual meeting in June 2014. The board has selected Michael Casey, lead director of the board of directors, to take Wilson’s place. Wilson will retain a seat on the board of directors.
“After a thorough search, Laurent emerged as the natural choice to lead our continued growth and global expansion,” said Casey. “We believe Lululemon will benefit from Laurent’s leadership experience and proven track record of success in building global brands. He has more than two decades of experience at premium, technical athletic apparel and lifestyle-centric retail companies, and his shared passion for driving innovative, community-focused brands makes him an excellent cultural fit for Lululemon. Additionally, his deep understanding of the importance of top-quality technical design, retail marketing strategies and the power of building a strong brand provides him with the tools we believe are necessary to lead our next exciting phase of growth. The board has full confidence in Laurent and we are all thrilled to welcome him to the Lululemon family.”
“I am excited and honored to be joining Lululemon,” said Potdevin. "It is an exceptional brand with an extraordinary team that creates beautiful technical products, and builds authentic consumer experiences. The tremendous success of this company to date and the potential for future growth are both exciting and inspiring. I look forward to working with everyone at Lululemon to continue to build and drive the brand forward.”
Potdevin comes to Lululemon having most recently served as president of Toms Shoes, a giving company founded on the mission that it would match every pair of shoes purchased with a pair of new shoes given to a child in need. While at Toms, he is credited with building a world-class management team, leading global expansion and broadening the company’s strong cultural identity. Prior to Toms, Potdevin held numerous positions at Burton Snowboards for more than 15 years, including president and CEO from 2005 to 2010. Potdevin began his career in 1991 at LVMH. He received a master’s degree in engineering from École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland, and his MBA from École Supérieure des Sciences Économiques et Commerciales, Paris, France.
“As we embark on this next stage of growth, we recognize the efforts and accomplishments of those whose work has created the Lululemon that we know today. Christine Day has been instrumental in the growth and development of this brand, and she leaves in place one of the strongest business models in the retail industry,” added Casey. “On behalf of the board and our employees, I would like to thank Christine for her outstanding leadership during the past six years, and her commitment to ensuring an orderly transition as Laurent succeeds her. We also wish to acknowledge the many contributions of our founder, Chip Wilson, whose vision for the business and passion for creating beautiful technical products remain the foundation of the company today.”
“Lululemon’s success has always been and will continue to be my highest priority. I am delighted that Laurent will be joining [the company] and believe his talents and experience ideally complement our existing management team. I know he will have a strong impact on the business as he has the vision and leadership capabilities necessary to create and direct its future,” said Wilson. “As Laurent joins as CEO, I believe that now is the right time for me to begin to transition out of my role as chairman of the board.”
David Cheesewright appointed Walmart International chief
Currently president and CEO of Walmart’s Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) and Canada region, David Cheesewright has been promoted to president and CEO of Walmart International, the company’s second largest operating segment.
Cheesewright will report to Doug McMillon, who was tapped to succeed Mike Duke as the company’s president and CEO. Both assume their new roles Feb. 1, 2014. Cheesewright’s successor will be named at a later date.
"David will lead the division at an exciting time," said McMillon. "We have strengthened our business and gained market share in the majority of our international markets, and he had a key role in that success. He brings a wealth of experience and a proven track record of innovation and governance. With his deep knowledge of the company, our customers, and our purpose, he is the ideal person to steer our next chapter of continued, long-term growth. David’s passion for sustainability will drive change that will help improve our world."
"I’m honored to be named to lead our international business at a time when our customers around the world need us more than ever," said Cheesewright. "A tremendous opportunity lies ahead for our company. Our success is dependent on our associates, and I’m committed to investing in them. Together, we will find innovative and sustainable ways to serve our customers and provide them with the quality, affordable products they expect from us. Through strong capital discipline, we will continue to invest in new stores and e-commerce growth, as well as productivity improvements that drive profitable growth and returns."
Cheesewright’s career spans more than 25 years across the international retail and manufacturing sectors. His Walmart career began in 1999 at Asda, the company’s U.K. operation, where he held leadership positions in operations, merchandising, logistics, strategy and format development. He was the COO for both Walmart Canada and Asda before being named CEO of Walmart Canada. While there, Cheesewright is credited with leading the growth of the company’s Canadian operations, including bringing Walmart’s highly successful supercenter format to the Canadian market and expanding the company’s e-commerce capabilities.
In 2011, he was named to his current position as president and CEO of Walmart’s EMEA and Canada region, where he oversaw the integration of the Massmart acquisition in Sub-Saharan Africa and more aggressive growth in the U.K. through the Netto stores acquisition. He helped develop and expand Asda’s online grocery delivery program and serves on the board of Walmart’s China e-commerce business, Yihaodian. Before his career with Walmart, Cheesewright held leadership positions in the United Kingdom with Mars Confectionery. He holds a first-class honors joint degree in sports science and mathematics from Loughborough University, England.
Walmart’s International division generates nearly 30% of the company’s revenue, serving more than 109 million customers every week in more than 6,200 retail units under 64 banners in 26 countries outside the U.S. In the third quarter 2013, Walmart International grew net sales to $33.1 billion. On a constant currency basis, net sales increased 4.1% to $34.4 billion.