UPDATE 1-Lululemon to polish tarnished image after "wake-up call"

Tue Jan 14, 2014 5:17pm EST
 
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By Solarina Ho

TORONTO Jan 14 (Reuters) - After a year of bungled public relations and messy quality and supply-chain troubles, Lululemon Athletica Inc is committed to fixing the problems that have marred its trendy image, a top executive at the yogawear retailer said on Tuesday.

Chief Financial Officer John Currie made the comments a day after the Vancouver, British Columbia-based company issued its second earnings warning in just over a month, sending its stock to a two-year low.

"2013, that's a year that we're quite happy to see going behind us ... the quality problems that we had earlier in the year were a real wake-up call," Currie told an industry conference.

"You always hear the phrase that any PR is good PR. What we learned is that's not always the case. I just wanted you to hear that we're taking it seriously. Like, we get it."

Lululemon, which had carved out a lucrative niche selling fashionable high-end workout clothes, was forced to recall some of its signature black stretchy yoga pants last March because they were too sheer.

Later in the year it acknowledged sales had been hurt by negative press about the product recall and by comments by founder Chip Wilson, who said Lululemon products "just actually don't work" with some women's body shapes.

Currie's mea culpa on Tuesday came as many investors question whether Lululemon's recent troubles and the increased competition it faces from rival workout gear makers such as Nike Inc and Gap Inc's Athleta brand have sapped its momentum.   Continued...