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lululemon athletica inc.
Type Public
(TSXLLL
NASDAQLULU)
Founded 1998
Founder(s) Chip Wilson
Headquarters Vancouver, BC, Canada
Area served Canada, United States, Australia, Japan
Key people Christine Day - CEO
Industry Clothing
Products Clothing
Operating income CDN$-80.0 million (2006)[1]
Employees 2861
Divisions lululemon athletica
OQOQO
Ivivva Athletica
Website www.lululemon.com

lululemon athletica inc. (TSXLLL, NASDAQLULU) (pronounced /ˌluːluːˈlɛmən/, with the last two syllables pronounced like "lemon") — self-described as a yoga-inspired athletic apparel company — produces a clothing line and runs international clothing-stores from its company base in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The first letters of the company name are always lower case, never "Lululemon Athletica," and always "lululemon athletica."

Contents

Company history

Dennis "Chip" Wilson founded lululemon athletica (usually referred to simply as "lululemon", "lulu") in 1998 in response to increased female participation in sports and in accordance with his belief in yoga as the optimal way to maintain athletic excellence into an advanced age. Wilson had previously made a foray into the sportswear business by setting up Westbeach Sports in 1979.

Wilson opened the first lululemon store in the Vancouver neighbourhood of Kitsilano: it included a design-studio/retail-store. It also shared space with a fledgling yoga-studio. As of August 2008, there were 40 lululemon athletica stores across Canada, 38 stores and showrooms in the United States and seven stores and showrooms in Australia. The company continues to expand: it expects to open approximately 60 locations across Canada and the United States over the next two years.

lululemon has a subsidiary company called OQOQO which focuses on clothing made from sustainable fabrics. OQOQO has a flagship store located in Vancouver and some OQOQO pieces are carried in lululemon stores across Canada and the US.

The OQOQO brand was melded into the main lululemon product line in fall 2009 when the company launched Ivivva Athletica, a new subsidiary that will initially target girls from ages 6 to 12. Ivivva Athletica was announced by lululemon in September 2009. Ivivva started with the opening of three stores in December 2009. Both BC based OQOQO stores (Vancouver and Victoria) are now Ivivva stores. The third store is in Market Mall in Calgary. The lululemon store was relocated within the mall and Ivivva moved into the space previously occupied by lululemon.[2] The OQOQO product line will be integrated into the lululemon product line.

In 2005, Advent International (partnered with Highland Capital Partners), a U.S. private equity firm, bought a 48% minority interest in lululemon for a reported CAD $225 million, and former Reebok chief executive officer Robert Meers became the new lululemon CEO. Wilson, the founder, now has 42% ownership, with retail-staff owning 10% in stocks and shares. The company formed a partnership with Descente of Japan to oversee lululemon's Japanese operations; however, in mid-2008, lululemon closed its Japanese operations (three stores) to focus on the North American market.

lululemon athletica announced an initial public offering in May 2007 and became a public company on July 27, 2007. Chip Wilson rang the opening bell on the Nasdaq exchange in the United States that day [3].

The Retail Council of Canada recognized the company as the 2003 Innovative Retailer of the Year in its "small store" classification.[4]

Originally marketed as yogawear, today the brand is best known by fans as very-well-fitting workout clothing that is more likely to be worn to and from the gym, on airplanes, and at home.

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Corporate philosophy and practices

lululemon has its main factory in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. In 2004 production expanded outside Canada and currently takes place in factories in the United States, China, Israel, Taiwan, India, Thailand, Peru and Indonesia.

lululemon athletica offers free yoga-classes, health-benefits and growth-opportunities, etc., to its employees. Controversially,[5]

the company also pays for management-staff — and other employees who have worked for the company for over a year — to attend the Landmark Forum, a personal development course.

Vitasea fabric controversy

In November 2007 The New York Times reported that it had commissioned laboratory-tests that failed to find significant differences in mineral-levels between cotton T-shirts and the fabric Vitasea, used by lululemon in some of its clothing-lines[6].

Following the publication of the NY Times article, lululemon commissioned a rush laboratory-test that it claimed confirmed the seaweed-content of its Vitasea line.[7]

lululemon was subsequently forced to remove all health claims from its seaweed-based products marketed in Canada, following a demand from the Competition Bureau of Canada. [8]

Olympics clothing controversy

In late 2009, lululemon released a line of clothing named the "Cool Sporting Event That Takes Place in British Columbia Between 2009 & 2011 Edition", an apparent reference to the 2010 Winter Olympics. The name does not infringe Canada's Olympic and Paralympic Marks Act in that it does not use the terms "Olympic(s)", "Vancouver", "2010", or any other term protected under that law. Representatives from the Vancouver Olympic Organizing Committee, while acknowledging that no explicit infringement had taken place, nevertheless expressed disappointment at lululemon's tactic.[9]

Footnotes

  1. ^ "Vancouver Enterprise Forum - Lululemon presentation" (pdf). 2006-02-28. Archived from the original on 2006-09-23. http://web.archive.org/web/20060923162734/http://www.vef.org/presentations/KOPKEVEFPresentation28feb2006.pdf. 
  2. ^ "lululemon athletica inc. Introduces Ivivva Athletica". The Financial Post. http://www.financialpost.com/markets/news-releases/story.html?id=1950487. Retrieved 2009-09-10. 
  3. ^ "Dennis "Chip" Wilson, founder of lululemon athletica, presides over the opening bell". Nasdaq. http://www.nasdaq.com/reference/200707/market_open_072707.stm. Retrieved 2007-07-29. 
  4. ^ "Innovative Retailer of the Year". Retail Council of Canada. http://www.retailcouncil.org/awards/rcc/innovative/. Retrieved 2006-08-15.  Link inaccessible as of 2007-09-13.
  5. ^ CNW Group | CHATELAINE | Murder in Mexico: Chatelaine exclusive
  6. ^ "Seaweed Clothing Has None, Tests Show". New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/14/business/14seaweed.html. Retrieved 2007-11-14. 
  7. ^ "lululemon atheletica Confirms VitaSea Fabric Contents and Testing Process". lululemon atheltica Corporation. http://www.lululemon.com/about/media/news/74. Retrieved 2007-11-17. 
  8. ^ "lululemon VitaSea Clothing: Competition Bureau Takes Action to Ensure Unsubstantiated Claims Removed from lululemon Clothing". Government of Canada. http://www.competitionbureau.gc.ca/internet/index.cfm?itemID=2517&lg=e. Retrieved 2007-11-16. 
  9. ^ "Lululemon scolded for linking clothing line to Olympics". CBC. http://www.cbc.ca/consumer/story/2009/12/16/consumer-lululemon-olympics.html. Retrieved 2009-12-16. 

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