October 30, 2013 / 4:39 PM / 5 years ago

Lululemon hires ex-Kmart executive for global merchandising role

TORONTO (Reuters) - Yogawear maker Lululemon Athletica Inc (LULU.O) on Wednesday named a former executive of Sears Holdings Corp SHLD.O to oversee its global merchandising and design, but offered no clue on who will become its next chief executive.

A Lululemon Athletica logo is seen outside one of the company's stores in New York, March 19, 2013. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Lululemon’s previous chief product officer left in April after the company recalled black yoga pants because they were overly sheer, and in June it said that Chief Executive Christine Day would leave as soon as a successor was on board.

The company named Tara Poseley, a yoga fan and a 25-year industry veteran who most recently was president of Sears’ Kmart Apparel division, as chief product officer. Poseley also spent 15 years with Gap Inc (GPS.N)

“A highly reliable industry source, who is a tough grader, informs us that Poseley is ‘very good,’ and we therefore view her joining the company as a positive for Lulu,” Faye Landes, an analyst with Cowen and Co, said in a client note.

Vancouver-based Lululemon carved out a niche for premium yoga wear and built up a passionate clientele that has helped the company regularly achieve quarterly sales growth of more than 20 percent.

But it suffered its biggest stumble when it was forced to pull yoga pants made with its signature black Luon fabric off store shelves, a recall that is likely to dent 2013 sales by $57 million to $67 million.

Lululemon shares were down 3.2 percent at $70.91 on the Nasdaq. At least one analyst said he had expected a CEO announcement to come at the same time as the appointment of a chief product officer.

When Lululemon’s previous chief product officer, Sheree Waterson, left in early April, the company split her job in two, hiring industry veteran, Jennifer Battersby as senior vice president of sourcing.

The effects of the pants recall are still being felt, with tougher quality controls causing delays that forced Lulu to lower its 2013 fiscal full-year outlook.

Steve Berube was hired this summer for the newly created position of senior vice president of global distribution and logistics.

Reporting by Solarina Ho; Editing by Janet Guttsman and Leslie Adler

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