Lululemon customers say selection at core of sales turnaround

Tue Mar 17, 2015 12:37pm EDT
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By Solarina Ho and Euan Rocha

TORONTO, March 17 (Reuters) - When retailer Lululemon Athletica pulled its "Define Jacket" off the shelves in 2013, customers were dismayed. When it embarrassingly recalled its signature yoga pants for being too sheer, they rushed for the exits.

Now the jacket is back, and so are customers, and that has helped boost Lululemon's shares more than 70 percent from their low last June.

In January, the company forecast an increase in same-store sales that was roughly double analysts' expectations, suggesting that the nearly two years of work it took to fix the supply-chain and other problems that had led to the "pantsgate" recall are paying off.

Some Wall Street brokers have turned negative on the stock ahead of Lululemon's next earnings report on March 26, but many longtime shoppers have regained enthusiasm.

They say a wider selection of styles, colors and prints are at the core of the revival overseen by Lululemon's new chief executive, Laurent Potdevin, who started in January 2014 after serving as president of TOMS Shoes.

Fashion bloggers say there was a two-year dry spell during which selection and variety were limited. Now they often update their blogs with new products and styles several times a day.

"The sheer amount of products and options that Lululemon now produces is staggering," said Suzanne Lane, a Lululemon fan who started her Agent Athletica blog less than a year ago.