Lululemon Appoints Laurent Potdevin as New CEO; Founder Chip Wilson Steps Down.

Okay, so really short article. I don’t have much to say. One could say I’m speechless. Anyway, here’s the link to the press release announcing the appointment. If you want more info, here’s another link where you can find additional information and listen to this morning’s conference call. Laurent, as you know, spent a lot of years at Burton Snowboards (as the press release calls it) and was President and CEO from 2005 to 2010. More recently, Laurent was President of Toms Shoes. 

Lululemon founder Chip Wilson is stepping down as CEO but will remain as a member of the board of directors. I imagine most of you are aware of Chip’s roots in action sports with Westbeach, which he found around 1980. You are probably also aware that some of his recent comments about some women’s bodies just not working for Lululemon clothing have pissed off a bunch of people. Strangely enough, that issue didn’t get mentioned in the conference call or press release. 
Michael Casey, Lead Director of the Lululemon Board of Directors, will be their next Chairman of the Board. In introducing the new CEO, he described Laurent’s experience at Burton this way:   
“During his time at the company, he helped the company grow far beyond its roots in snowboarding to become a truly global brand synonymous with the sport and lifestyle.”
There was time for just three or four questions from analysts. They generally focused on Laurent’s background and experience as it related to Lululemon.
That’s it. I look forward to the comments and discussion on my web site.



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12 Responses to “Lululemon Appoints Laurent Potdevin as New CEO; Founder Chip Wilson Steps Down.”

  1. stikman says:

    Forced out due to recent comments? or natural transition?

    • jeff says:

      Hi Stikman,

      Excellent question. I am hoping that somebody that reads my column might know more than I know and will tell us something in this space.


      • stikman says:

        I come here for your financial outlook expertise and insights, but, it appears the company hasn’t stumbled at all from their recent drama.

        • jeff says:

          Hi Stikman,

          I’ve never really followed Lululemon’s financials. Perhaps I should start, but I can hardly keep up with what I follow right now. The stock is way up from its IPO in July 2007 at somewhere around $16. But it’s pretty much gone sideways since March of 2012.

          Thanks for the comment,

  2. Rob Valerio says:

    Hi Jeff-

    There was a Wall St. Journal article today that said Chip had to get some guidance from his Board to “not give people advice unless they ask for it” and “work through the CEO, not around”.

    • jeff says:

      Thanks Rob,

      Can’t get to the whole article because I don’t have a WSJ subscription. See You Know Who’s comment next to yours. Seems consistent with the article. Any way you can give us a way to see that article?


  3. You Know Who says:

    Everyone in Vancouver knows Chip is eccentric at best and a nut case at worse. Looks like Laurent is stepping off the sinking TOMS boat just in time. But while he was there he did a great job of turning a fun uplifting company into one of the most unfriendly and hard to work with companies in the footwear industry (quoted from many retailers). Always fascinates me on how these decisions are made. Lulu has a very loyal and strong following and I think they will continue to do just fine no mater who is supposedly in charge. But then again, what do I know?

    • jeff says:

      Good morning YKN,

      My recollection is that he had a similar reputation at Burton. Perhaps that’s just what Lululemon was looking for?


  4. You Know Who says:

    I didn’t want to say that but yes on that one. Since he doesn’t have to work with any retailers now maybe its a good fit. Time will tell.

    • jeff says:

      As I got reminded by somebody offline, we all mistakes. Hopefully we all learn from them as well. I mean, not that you and I have ever made a mistake or anything……………..


  5. You Know Who says: