‘This is a huge story, mostly because of how this press release has been worded and the unspecified failure to achieve the required “standards of conduct”,  and that it was ‘effective immediately’. Sounds pretty scandalous. Definitely wondering what has gone down as far as not achieving ‘standards of conduct’. The speculations on this one is pretty obvious considering the current climate. I am glad to see that whatever untoward conduct happened, Lululemon has clearly taken it seriously enough to have their CEO resign.


lululemon expects all employees to exemplify the highest levels of integrity and respect for one another, and Mr. Potdevin fell short of these standards of conduct. The Board of Directors has immediately begun a search process for a proven and highly-experienced global Chief Executive Officer.


lululemon athletica inc. CEO Laurent Potdevin Resigns

Three senior leaders to assume expanded roles reporting to Executive Chairman Glenn Murphy

VANCOUVER, British Columbia–(BUSINESS WIRE)– lululemon athletica inc. (NASDAQ:LULU), the healthy lifestyle inspired athletic apparel company, today announced that Laurent Potdevin has resigned as CEO and as a member of the company’s Board of Directors, effective immediately. lululemon expects all employees to exemplify the highest levels of integrity and respect for one another, and Mr. Potdevin fell short of these standards of conduct. The Board of Directors has immediately begun a search process for a proven and highly-experienced global Chief Executive Officer.

“While this was a difficult and considered decision, the Board thanks Laurent for his work in strengthening the company and positioning it for the future,” said Glenn Murphy, Executive Chairman of the Board. “Culture is at the core of lululemon, and it is the responsibility of leaders to set the right tone in our organization. Protecting the organization’s culture is one of the Board’s most important duties.”

In his newly expanded role as Executive Chairman, Mr. Murphy will focus on achieving long-term, sustainable results for all stakeholders. Three of lululemon’s senior leaders are being elevated and will take on additional responsibilities, reporting to Mr. Murphy: Celeste Burgoyne, Executive Vice President, Americas, will oversee all channel and brand-facing aspects of the global business, including stores and e-commerce, as well as brand marketing; Stuart Haselden, Chief Operating Officer, will have responsibility for all operations related to finance, supply chain, people, and technology; and Sun Choe, Senior Vice President of Merchandising, will guide all aspects of product development, design, innovation, and merchandising.

Mr. Murphy added, “The Board is entirely confident that Celeste, Stuart and Sun – three leaders deeply tied to the recent momentum in the business – can continue to execute on lululemon’s growth strategy and drive global performance. Based upon their contributions to the recent expansion of the business, their history of collaboration with one another and their strong support across the lululemon organization, we believe this trio of leaders will take lululemon from strength to strength.”

Today, lululemon also reaffirmed its updated guidance provided on January 8, 2018, that reflects the ongoing momentum of the business. In addition, the company’s growth strategies remain on track to achieve $4 billion in revenue in 2020. The company’s continued success in the market it created is rooted in its strong connection to its guests and vertically integrated business model; embodiment of the active, mindful lifestyle; and category-disrupting product innovation that blends fashion and function.

 

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40 Comments

  1. Anon
    February 5, 2018 / 1:55 pm

    WOW this definitely is huge news. To actually say that he falls short in exemplifying integrity and respect for one another is extremely damning and makes one wonder what the heck was happening at LLL under his management. I just hope that the work environment will be better now as everyone deserves to work in a safe and healthy environment.

    Cristina was Holeman ever replaced and if so by who, or is that position still in need of being filled? It is going to be a very challenging time for the 3 board members who are taking on additional responsibilities until such time as a new CEO is appointed, any suggestions???

    • Cristina
      Author
      February 5, 2018 / 2:07 pm

      As far as I know, Holeman hasn’t been replaced. I’ve been saying for months and months now that something is not right. The product drops are extremely light and it seems the actual running of the business and selling products has taken a real back seat.The creative director position was created for Lee Holeman when they restructured head office two years ago. There was never a creative director before Potdevin. Potdevin also hired an Executive Vice President of Digital, Miguel Almeida in June 2015 and he left the company in early 2017. Many people at head office lost their jobs during that restructuring of the departments.
      I really hope they clarify this misconduct because as a customer this leaves me very concerned for their employees. I want to support a business that treats their employees well, and provides a safe and happy environment as you said.

      • Anon
        February 5, 2018 / 2:40 pm

        Hi Cristina this is @anon 1:55pm thanks for replying. So prior to Holeman was it just a head designer in charge of designs? Also I don’t recall hearing that the VP of digital left in 2017. I have to wonder if it was Miguel who made the changes to the website or if that happened after he left? This is all very interesting and it sounds like all has not been smooth at LLL HQ for some time. I agree that they should clarify the misconduct because their statement leaves too much unsaid leading to speculation that may or may not be true. Now is the time to tell the truth, not hide it.

  2. anon
    February 5, 2018 / 4:11 pm

    What’s worse is that despite there being allegations against him, he got a $5million USD pay cheque.

    • Anonymous
      February 6, 2018 / 5:03 am

      Right?! I read about this too! Absolutely appalling!

      • Amy
        February 6, 2018 / 11:55 am

        Yes, I’m really disgusted at his payout. Terrible.

  3. Mrs. O
    February 5, 2018 / 4:36 pm

    This is all very interesting and not good news. Whether it’s securities fraud or workplace harassment, at least something is being done. Let’s hope that immediate and swift action was taken rather than an attempt to hide it first, then resulting in Potdevin’s resignation.

  4. Anon
    February 5, 2018 / 5:03 pm

    The Star.com wrote, In a filing to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the company says it will pay Potdevin more than $5 million in exchange for Potdevin agreeing not to sue, among other stipulations. How does this statement jive with business wire.com shareholder alert that the Board of the Directors are being investigated and not Potdevin? How do both of these articles jive with LLL’s statement that makes it sound like the failed standard of conduct was toward fellow workers? This is very confusing and LLL is totally to blame for not coming clean and being transparent to their shareholders and customers.

    • Cristina
      Author
      February 5, 2018 / 6:05 pm

      I agree with you completely. Their statement lends itself conduct towards fellow workers, not a fraud. The payout with he condition of Potdevin also doesn’t lend itself to fraud. If it was fraud, that term wouldn’t be there I don’t think, unless it’s standard. I see that being there because they forced him to leave without a criminal investigation or hard evidence, and he took it knowing he wouldn’t come out clean if there was an investigation. I wonder if this was two separate issues – potential securities fraud + whatever this PR nightmare is. Lululemon definitely owes it to shareholders and customers to come clean. How shameful towards every single hardworking employee of the company.

      • Anonymous
        February 5, 2018 / 7:01 pm

        The Business Wire story sounds like ambulance chasing on the part of a law firm. Don’t read too much into it.

        • Rise and Shine
          February 6, 2018 / 4:25 pm

          Agreed. There’s a whole cottage industry of scummy firms who purport to represent shareholders. They essentially blackmail companies into settling their baseless suits. Ok, yes, it’s possible the Board didn’t handle this properly, but really, what evidence is there of that? These guys are just leaches bottom feeding. Sorry; I used to be a lawyer, but I would never do this kind of work. These guys give lawyers a bad name, and that’s saying something.

      • Anon
        February 6, 2018 / 4:46 am

        This is not an ambulance chaser action by a law firm. It looks like the Board of Directors are being investigated due to the payout to Potdevin and whether or not the Board of Directors failed in their fudiciary responsibility to the shareholders in regard to the payout. My feeling is the Board must have been between a rock and a hard place with going public with the true reason for Potdevin’s resignation and the threat of being sued by him if they felt there was not enough evidence to pursue this in court. I am sure the company’s legal council looked at the situation every which way and advised the company to keep this out of court. To me Potdevin has always come across as an arrogant sob and the qualities for which Potdevin was applauded for by the Board are now qualities that are biting them in the ass in getting him the hell out of the company. For the Board not to come clean on the real reason for his departure tells me Potdevin made that a further stipulation in order not to sue the company which also tells me Potdevin would have fought this big time and the Board did not want to put the employees involved through this.

        Yes this is pure speculation on my part and is based on what little facts are known and reading between the lines. Unfortunately when the truth is withheld speculation is going to happen and I won’t be the only one thinking along these lines especially now in light of the me too movement and the culture of keeping silent has been broken. Where is the justice in all of this when he gets to walk away with over $5 million dollars and the real truth for his departure kept silent?

        • Kelly
          February 6, 2018 / 9:52 am

          I think a lot of your speculation is reasonable (and entertaining to read 🙂 ) but I wouldn’t be so sure that the investigation is related to the payout, at least based on what I’ve read. The fact that the lawsuit description is so vague makes me think it could be any number of things, although maybe you’ve read something that I haven’t seen. I don’t think that sort of payout is totally unreasonable- it is just a way to avoid a long drawn out PR disaster of taking something to court. They basically fired him and gave him severance.

          • Kelly
            February 6, 2018 / 10:03 am

            OH wow….I take that back about the vagueness of the lawsuit! I was reading the release of A DIFFERENT law suit! The first one does specify the payout. Sorry about that!

          • Mrs. O
            February 6, 2018 / 11:06 am

            I agree this is a severance package, which usually includes a provision to waive any claims against the company. While $5 million is a hefty payment, long drawn out litigation and potential wrongful termination issues (if there’s a gray area in his “conduct”), would be significantly more. We also don’t know what his compensation package under his employment agreement was. There could have been a greater liability for Lululemon under the contract (on a contract claim by Potdevin)

            I suspect the termination is a result of a securities fraud violation and the company culture related to the sexual assault lawsuit filed again Lululemon for creating a hostile work environment and not properly dealing with complaints against male supervisors for sexual harassment (and sexual assault). I was horrified to learn the supervisor in question was transferred to one of my local stores where he later raped a female Ed.

            Lululemon could be facing a really uphill battle if there were significant securities violations. And the snowball effect of shareholder lawsuits . . . I’m sure we’ll be getting more details over the next few days, weeks and months.

            • Runrunyogi
              February 6, 2018 / 2:18 pm

              I agree with what Mrs. O. said. Plus, until the legalities are sorted they have to be careful with the information that is released. After that it will depend on the disclosure agreement and what all parties agree upon as a statement.

            • Anon
              February 6, 2018 / 3:16 pm

              What more can you tell us about this lawsuit filed against LLL and more particularly, does it name anyone in particular besides LLL? Where did you get this information? It sounds from what you have said Mrs. O that no one in upper management i.e. Potdevin was doing anything about sexual harrassment/assaults complaints.

              • Mrs. O
                February 7, 2018 / 4:27 pm

                There was a male supervisor that was transferred to several different stores in Los Angeles. The incident took place when he was at the Santa Monica location. Apparently, he flirted with a lot of the female Eds, one of which went out with him. I think on one occasion, she went to his home and some physical contact ensued. Then it went past what she felt comfortable doing. She is alleging that she was raped. Most of the “facts” come from the complaint, which is public record. So, the facts and what the papers are reporting is one-sided. Nevertheless, the complaint also alleges that management was pressuring her to resign and complaints by others were ignored.

                Here’s a link to one of the articles: https://www.cnbc.com/2017/12/20/suit-claims-lululemon-supervisor-raped-worker.html

            • Rise and Shine
              February 6, 2018 / 4:34 pm

              I doubt that the sexual harassment case was what caused Potdevin’s ouster. As terrible as it was, CEOs never pay the consequences for an individual employee’s misconduct, nor for the way the HR department handles it. And, after all, the head of HR hasn’t resigned.

              Also, I think if that was it, the statement would have stated that more clearly. As it is, we’re all left wondering if Potdevin personally harassed/assaulted someone. If he was guilty of simply not doing enough to create a positive climate, I think they would have stated that clearly, rather than leaving us wondering whether he himself should be criminally investigated.

          • Anon
            February 6, 2018 / 12:11 pm

            Hi Kelly this is anon 4:46a.m. Supposedly the investigation relates to the announcement of Potdevin’s resignation caused the stock to drop so this investigation would look into anyone in the know (the Board) if they made a profit off of this.

            • Kelly
              February 6, 2018 / 6:08 pm

              That makes sense, thank you for the clarification!

              • February 6, 2018 / 10:19 pm

                Well it appears he has been dating one of the head designers for some time I wonder if that somehow had something to do with it.

  5. sassy
    February 6, 2018 / 7:07 am

    Is this the same guy that shamed heavy women for wearing LL crops??

    • bacall
      February 6, 2018 / 7:14 am

      no that was the founder and original CEO Chip Wilson

      • sassy
        February 8, 2018 / 6:14 am

        Got it…thank you!

  6. Juliana
    February 6, 2018 / 6:10 pm

    Just a side note about “The company’s continued success in the market it created is rooted in its strong connection to its guests…..” it’s too bad the company is being headed by men. Where are the strong women at the helm??

    • Cristina
      Author
      February 6, 2018 / 7:16 pm

      Wow!! lululemon painted quite the picture with their press release. If this was a consensual relationship between two adults, and not a sexual assault I think Lululemon is doing a real disservice to keep that story circulating. But I guess it was in their interest to spin it that way. If Ms. S is causing a stink for not having her contract renewed under these circumstances I’m really surprised at how short sighted that is. Do you read it that way as well? wow, lots to unpack here. I am really interested in the greater discussion here on this topic.

      • anon
        February 6, 2018 / 7:29 pm

        How do you know it’s Ms. S? There was no name
        in the cnbc article, was there?

        • Cristina
          Author
          February 6, 2018 / 7:37 pm

          I edited your comment. I don’t want to get sued.

          They’ve been in a relationship since 2014 and she’s been all over his instagram.

          • Anon
            February 7, 2018 / 7:50 am

            Oh wow she’s been all over his Instagram? Holy cow that’s lame and reckless of them. what’s even more disheartening is he is married, with kids, though my understanding is that they are back in California. Didn’t make the move? I think I read that here at some point. Maybe a case of married but separate lives, but not cool to be so open on Insta.

            • Cristina
              Author
              February 7, 2018 / 7:57 am

              No – I don’t think their relationship was at all a secret and there for not ‘hidden’ from social media. It was even mentioned in an article from last year written about the lululemon lab. It was out in the open and Lululemon knew about it it seems, if they didn’t I’d be shocked. As far as his marriage – he separated/divorced from his wife shortly after he became CEO of Lululemon. Who knows how long the separation was in the works for. My guess is it’s amicable, but who knows. I believe his kids are grown and in university.

              • Anon
                February 7, 2018 / 9:20 am

                Oh, now I see. I had no idea it was out in the open and that he and spouse had separated. I get it now, whoever the LLL employee was, left in 2014 so it wouldn’t be a violation of corporate policy that they were in a relationship. But definitely interesting if they brought her back as a contractor. Have the two of them split? Sorry, this is unusually gossipy of me!

      • Anon
        February 7, 2018 / 6:52 am

        It may have been a consensual relationship but there is definitely an abuse of power here. He wants a relationship with an employee he is attracted to so in order to circumvent terms of employment that would prohibit boss/employee sexual relationship she leaves the company with the assurance from him to hire her back under a contractual basis thereby his relationship with her is no longer as boss/employee and she continues to work. To go to this length in order to carry on a relationship who knows how else he used his position of power over other women in the company he may have been attracted to? Not saying the woman in question wasn’t a willing participant here, she clearly was, but Potdevin as CEO, never should have allowed for this to have happened in the first place. As for the golden parachute I understand from what I have read there was a clause in his employment contract for this payment if he were let go without just cause and that is where his consent to not sue would have come into play. It sounds as though all was and is not zen in the LLL workplace.

  7. Anon
    February 7, 2018 / 7:48 am

    Hi it’s Anon 7:04 p.m I posted the CNBC link. I agree that a consensual relationship, if that was the only thing, might have handled differently by LLL. However, I don’t think that was the sole reason. There may have been other incidents and inappropriate behaviour to other women. The article also mentions a toxic work environment, which sounds new to LLL. It sounds like he created that or was the main proponent of it (sh!t rolls down hill, i.e. everyone is under greater pressure now, coming from the top) and while I don’t know the man, I know this type of toxic behaviour: I’d put money on that he was a bully to everyone.

    As to the potential complainant/former employee, I don’t know if it is fair to say she did anything to cause this? Cristina, your insider’s ear and connections would know more. It would not be unusual now, that in this age of metoo, maybe someone or someones, had finally had enough of a cumulative amount of his behaviour and actions, that they decided to just be transparent on what they knew, let the chips fall where they may.

    I also agree with what Anon 6:52 a.m. has stated above.

    • Anon
      February 15, 2018 / 6:28 am

      Hi Cristina, thanks for posting this article, very enlightening but also very disturbing. All I have to say is thank goodness for the #metoomovement because I believe this is what empowered employees to finally stand up to the company and say enough is enough. I find it disgusting to think, however, that this is what it took for the Board to finally do what should have been done ages ago. To think all you have to do is come clean about having a boss/employee relationship and all is fine, what a load of delusional bulls–t. I don’t know who the idiots are on the Board but if this is how they think a company should be run and how a CEO should conduct oneself than they should all be fired as well.

      My heart goes out to all those employees who were affected by this toxic behaviour. To those who stood up to these jerks, GOOD ON YOU.

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