* To broaden products amid success of casual wear collection
* Company still recovering from 2013 recall, supply chain
* Says men's line could become billion-dollar business
By Solarina Ho
TORONTO, April 17 Lululemon Athletica Inc
, best known for its trendy yoga wear, hopes to drive
growth in coming years by expanding its range of fitness-related
apparel and accelerating international plans, its newly
appointed chief executive said on Thursday.
Laurent Potdevin, who was recruited to revive the company's
fortunes after an embarrassing recall and supply chain issues
last year raised questions about growth prospects, made the
comments in Vancouver at the retailer's analyst day.
He said the company's casual wear, which uses many of the
fabrics and technology developed for its yoga gear, would become
a key component of its growth.
Lululemon's push into other product lines comes as it faces
stiffer competition in the niche market it once dominated.
The company, which eschews traditional advertising for
word-of-mouth branding, recently launched a limited collection
of casual fitness wear called "&Go" to test demand.
"The recent success of our &Go capsule, which I'm sure
you've seen, speaks to the elasticity of the brand," said
Potdevin during his presentation.
"This lifestyle product collection resonated with our guests
exceptionally well and will become an important part of our
But Vancouver-based Lululemon, which opened its first
European store in London earlier this month as part of its
international drive, is still dealing with the fallout from last
year's recall of yoga pants that proved too see-through.
The company, which once boasted same-store sales growth of
more than 30 percent, reported its first decline in quarterly
comparable sales since 2009 last month, hit by weak
post-Christmas holiday sales.
The company's rapid growth in recent years, combined with
its March 2013 recall, caused supply chain issues last year.
Delivery problems of products to stores and an overhaul of the
company's quality control have hampered performance.
The problems, combined with comments by the company's
founder that some women's bodies "don't work" for its yoga
pants, put a blemish on the company's feel-good, inspirational
Still, Potdevin said sales at the new London store, key to
the company's plans to accelerate its European roll-out, were
exceeding its target by 60 percent.
He sought to reassure analysts that Lululemon was focused on
making sure its infrastructure could support its expansion
plans, bring products to stores more quickly, and still be
efficient enough to maintain strong margins.
Executives on Thursday repeatedly underscored Lulu's role in
creating what became an extremely hot market as it presented
some of its new products, which included samples of its growing
men's and young girls collections.
Potdevin said its men's line could eventually become a
billion-dollar business and its Ivivva stores for young girls
had a half billion-dollar potential. The standalone Ivivva
stores were currently seeing sales of $900 a square foot, with
double-digit comparable-store sales growth, executives said.
(Editing by Jeffrey Hodgson and Matthew Lewis)