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By
Reuters
Published
Feb 2, 2015
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Founder of yogawear chain Lululemon steps down from board

By
Reuters
Published
Feb 2, 2015

Lululemon Athletica Inc. founder Chip Wilson, a sometimes controversial figure who helped build the Canadian yogawear retailer into an international success story, said on Monday he was resigning from the company's board.

"I believe that now is the right time to step away," Wilson said in a statement.

Original Lululemon store in Vancouver, Canada | Photo: - Lululemon


Wilson, who founded Lululemon in 1998, withdrew from day-to-day management in early 2012, and stepped down as chairman in late 2013.

Shares in Lululemon fell 1.4 percent at $65.34 on the Nasdaq.

In early 2013, the company was hit by a high-profile recall of its signature yoga pants after complaints mounted that they were overly see-through. Wilson briefly returned to take a more active role in operations.

The fallout from the recall led to departures of top executives and a public relations headache for the company.

The problems were compounded later that year, when Wilson said fabric in some pants was not holding up because some customers' thighs rubbed together, adding that "some women's bodies just actually don't work" for Lululemon's clothing.

His comments sparked an uproar, in part because of the perception that Wilson was blaming quality issues on customers. Wilson later said he was "sad for the repercussions of his actions."

Wilson stepped down as chairman in December 2013, but stayed on as a director.

Tensions remained, however, as Wilson lashed out at the retailer's board last June, saying the new chairman and another director were too focused on short-term growth.

A proxy war was averted when Wilson agreed to sell one-half of his 27 percent stake in Lululemon to private equity firm Advent International for $845 million. Under the agreement, Advent added two of its senior managers to Lululemon's board.

Lululemon has seen the beginning of a turnaround in recent months, under the direction of new chief executive officer, Laurent Potdevin.

Wilson said he will work with his wife and son on their new business, Kit and Ace, a luxury casual wear company that opened in July.
 

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