Lululemon Exec: 2014 Is the Year of IT Investment

For athletic apparel retailer lululemon, 2014 is the year of investments, with an emphasis on strengthening its foundation, reigniting the product engine and accelerating global expansion. The retailer's magic has been built by creating technical, attractive products and sharing its distinct culture with customers. For the fourth quarter, revenue increased 7.3% and e-commerce sales were $263 million, or 16.5% of total sales.
"We are refocusing our energy as a relevant disruptor in the space we created," said lululemon CEO Laurent Potdevin. "It means being audacious, it means being curious, it means stretching our minds to invent the future and deliver the exceptional product that our guests are expecting from us."
During the second half of 2014, a second distribution center will open in Columbus, Ohio to enhance efficiency and improve service levels to e-commerce. While continuing to invest in infrastructure, lululemon will also rebalance its investment to focus on key priorities to drive growth in areas such as brand, product innovation and guest experience. "We expect capital expenditures to be between $110 million and $115 for fiscal 2014, reflecting new store build-outs, renovation and relocation capital for existing stores, IT systems and other head office capital," said lululemon CFO John Currie.
As lululemon embarks on growing beyond its current footprint, the retailer will also strengthen its foundation. This means having the brand and world-class product engine both back where they belong. "Product has always been paramount to our success and will remain at the very epicenter of all we do," noted Potdevin.
The product engine will be restructured both from a design standpoint and from a quality and sourcing standpoint. The retailer remains relentless in building great product and is pushing technical innovation by leveraging its vendor expertise in raw materials, development and construction to capitalize on in-house capabilities with its new Whitespace workshop.
Due to a rebalancing of product assortment to meet customer demands, the retailer will continue to invest in supply chain and product operations functions to create a product development engine for global business.
The e-commerce environment is really going to morph into a platform for the retailer to engage the customer in a much broader assortment. "As we grow our goal is to have an e-commerce site that would have the full breadth of our assortment," commented Tara Poseley, chief product officer for lululemon. "Then as we go into countries or regions of the United States, how we break that broader assortment up will be very related to the community and what is the appropriate product in that community."
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