(Adds analyst comments, details, changes dateline from Washington; figures in U.S. dollars)
By Jennifer Kwan
TORONTO, May 1 (Reuters) - Lululemon Corp., a retailer of yoga-inspired athletic apparel in North America, filed with regulators on Tuesday to raise up to $230 million in an initial public offering of common stock in a bid to expand its brand globally.
The Canadian company said in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that Goldman Sachs & Co. and Merrill Lynch & Co. were the lead underwriters for the IPO.
Credit Suisse, UBS Investment Bank, William Blair & Co., CIBC World Markets, Wachovia Securities, and Thomas Weisel Partners LLC are assisting in the underwriting.
Lululemon plans to list its stock on Nasdaq under the symbol LULU (LULU.O) and on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbol LLL. LLL.TO.
The company was founded in 1998 by Dennis “Chip” Wilson in Vancouver, British Columbia, and was developed to cater to the women’s athletic apparel market, with its logo now a mainstay in yoga studios and trendy neighborhoods.
“They have both a real and perceived differentiated product which they premium price, and they’ve tapped into a lifestyle with a great product,” said Luke Sklar, a partner at Toronto-based marketing research consultant firm Sklar Wilton & Associates Ltd.
Best known for its stretchy yoga tops and pants, accentuated with fashionable color combinations, the company is seen as a major force in the yoga retail market, Sklar added.
As of April, the company’s branded apparel was principally sold through its 52 stores, mostly in Canada and the United States.
Lululemon plans to use the proceeds from the IPO for new store openings in North America and overseas, and for working capital and other general corporate purposes.
“When you think of yoga you think of Lululemon,” said Bob Gibson, analyst at Octagon Capital Corp. “It’s done an amazing job in Canada.”
Considering who is involved in the IPO suggests that the company’s plan is to make a big sales push outside Canada, he added.
For the fiscal year ended Jan. 31, the company earned $7.7 million on $148.9 million of net revenue. For the previous year, it earned $1.4 million on net revenue of $84.1 million.
For fiscal 2007 and 2008, Lululemon has budgeted $28 million to $34 million for new store openings
(Additional reporting by Karey Wutkowski in Washington)