UPDATE 3-Lululemon sales beat expectations, shares rise

Wed Jun 8, 2016 1:05pm EDT
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(Adds details from conference call, quotes from CEO)

By Julie Gordon

VANCOUVER, June 8 (Reuters) - Lululemon Athletica Inc on Wednesday reported first-quarter sales that beat analyst expectations thanks to better-managed inventory, new store openings and online sales, sending shares up.

The Vancouver-based company, which has struggled in recent years with embarrassing product recalls and inventory problems, said it brought its inventory levels under control during the quarter.

The retailer also touted growth in Europe and Asia, and said e-commerce is growing strongly despite a dip in online growth compared with the previous year.

"Lululemon begins its new fiscal year in very much the same way it ended its last one: with strong overall sales growth fueled by the rise of online and the opening of new stores," said Neil Saunders, who heads retail research firm Conlumino.

The company's shares were trading up 2.2 percent at $69.64 on Wednesday.

Lululemon, which competes with Nike Inc and Under Armour Inc, recently implemented a plan to double revenue and regain its position as a leader in the lucrative "athleisure" segment.

"Today we have the right people throughout Lululemon to support the execution of our strategic five-year plan," chief executive Laurent Potdevin said on a conference call.   Continued...