Costly quality issues and PR mistakes meant lululemon was flailing when I joined in late 2013. I was most concerned about improving employee morale, consumer confidence, and starting to rebuild a strong pipeline of innovation. This included restructuring and building the right management team, promoting “decentralized leadership,” and implementing an evolved curriculum on personal development. In the span of a year, lululemon was back to strong comp sales and double-digit growth.
Having returned to positive momentum, we set out a five-year goal of building a $4 billion organization with $1 billion coming from international markets, $1 billion generated by men’s products and $1billion from digital sales. Our strategy was to build brand awareness in main international capitals before expanding in more suburban markets. Successful launches in London, Hong Kong, Seoul, and Shanghai, as well as a strong collaboration with TMall, set the right trajectory. Dedicated resources across all functions including store design supported the men’s business to deliver outsized growth.
Following the roadmap of the men’s growth, I created a cross-functional team with the goal of building a digital footprint and generating $1 billion of revenue within three years. We implemented RFID technology combined with a platform providing real-time inventory visibility across all physical and digital stores. This resulted in increased accuracy, reduced markdowns, increased profitability, and within just five months, a mid-teen comp revenue increase.
Even in a challenging landscape, lululemon exceeded its projections of revenue and profitability by the end of 2017. Retail employee turnover was at an all-time low and we worked diligently to achieve pay parity with women being paid at 101% of men in our stores. I am proud to have been named #1 CEO in Canada in 2015 by Glassdooor which speaks to employee morale and engagement. In 2017, we were recognized as one of the top 10 companies to work for in North America.