Lululemon facing calls for board reform, transparency

Wed Apr 29, 2015 4:02pm EDT
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By Euan Rocha and Solarina Ho

TORONTO, April 29 (Reuters) - The uproar around yogawear retailer Lululemon Athletica two years ago was about a little too much transparency. Now some shareholders are complaining about a lack of it.

Lululemon shares tumbled and executives departed following a high-profile 2013 recall of its signature yoga pants that were deemed too see-through. Its founder Chip Wilson later clashed with the board over how things were being run.

While the stock largely recovered from the pants debacle, some investors say the Vancouver-based company - which holds its annual meeting June 3 - must do more to improve its corporate governance.

"There needs to be serious reform on this board," said Roger Hardy, chair of Hardy Capital Partners, a longtime shareholder. "They've got to look themselves in the mirror."

Lululemon, which is pursuing international expansion in the face of growing competition, averted a proxy war last year when Wilson agreed to sell half his stake to Advent International, a private equity firm. Advent now has two seats on the board, a development Hardy said is positive. Wilson quit the board in February.

When the board reached a settlement that essentially ended a face-off with Wilson last year, it vowed to have an independent expert review its governance policies and board make-up. But more than eight months later, it has yet to outline any findings from the review or make any changes to its governance practices.

Wilson still owns a 14.2 percent stake and has the right to nominate one member of the board, but has not done so.

He said in an email that he has had difficulty finding a qualified candidate willing to join the board given the fact that the governance review he pushed for has not led to anticipated changes to the board's structure, composition and plurality voting system.   Continued...