Just in Time for Christmas, lulu Lands a New CEO

12/10/2013
After months of searching, lululemon has settled on a new CEO to replace departing chief Christine Day, under whose tenure the brand suffered an embarrassing sheer-pants quality problem earlier this year and recent public remarks by founder Chip Wilson that seemed to blame women's thighs for contributing to the see-through material.

Laurent Potdevin brings to the role two decades of extensive experience building global brands at premium technical, athletic apparel and lifestyle-centric companies, with notable stints at LVMH and, most recently, TOMS.

Michael Casey who currently serves as lead director of the lulu board and will assume chairman duties when Wilson will step down from the role ahead of the company's annual meeting in June described Potdevin as possessing a deep understanding of and enthusiasm for all areas of the business. "Laurent has a proven ability to collaborate and motivate across an organization and a passion for driving innovation," Casey continued.

"Culture is very strong and important at lulu and we think Laurent will fit into our team," he added.

Assuming his new role in January, Potdevin emphasized that lululemon has all the elements in place to grow in North America and beyond. "The key is to provide the resources both financial and human to make sure we can leverage and capitalize on the current success and bring that success beyond North America," he said.

During his tenure with LVMH, Potdevin relocated from Paris to North America to restructure the technology, supply chain and management around the fleet of Louis Vuitton stores, he explained.

The incoming CEO also shared past experiences as president of TOMS and and president/CEO of Burton Surfboards that will help to shape his responsibilities and vision at lululemon.

"At both organizations we were able to very quickly build the infrastructure, both from a technical and supply chain standpoint, and from a sourcing and quality standpoint, to support a global business," Potdevin revealed.

"Whether it's putting a platform in China and in Hong Kong, in context of TOMS, to make sure we have the right product development, commercialization and quality assurance model, or whether it's building the supply chain to fulfill the needs of our giving model at TOMS, which over past two years probably become the largest-scale gift-in-kind donor around the world building the supply chain in developing countries certainly was a challenge we tackled," he said.

"Learning is what fuels me, and I tend to be curious," Potdevin concluded.

While at TOMS, Potdevin built a world-class management team, led global expansion, and broadened the company’s strong cultural identity. Prior to TOMS, Potdevin held numerous positions at Burton Snowboards, for more than 15 years, including president and CEO from 2005-2010.

The business grew significantly under his leadership, expanding across product categories and creating international scale by focusing on providing the best consumer experience. His earlier roles at Burton included president and COO as well as director of operations.

Potdevin began his career in 1991 at LVMH. He received his Masters Degree in Engineering from École Polytechnique FÉdÉrale de Lausanne, Switzerland and his MBA from École SupÉrieure des Sciences Économiques et Commerciales in Paris.

Day will remain with lululemon through the end of the company's fiscal year to ensure a seamless leadership transition, according to the company.
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