Lululemon founder wants board shakeup to increase shareholder value

By on June 12, 2014

Photo courtesy of LuluLemon Yoga Wear
Photo courtesy of LuluLemon Yoga Wear

VANCOUVER — The founder of Lululemon yoga wear wants a shakeup among board members at the company he founded, saying they don’t share his vision.

Chip Wilson voted against the re-election of two board members and says they needed to be replaced to increase shareholder value.

Lululemon Athletics Inc. holds its annual shareholder meeting today in Vancouver.

The company has had to deal with the fallout from a style of yoga pants that had fabric which was sometimes see-through and a drop in its stock price.

“I believe change is now needed at the board level to increase shareholder value,” Wilson said in a statement.

“I have found a palpable imbalance in board representation, which is heavily weighted towards short-term results at the expense of product, culture and brand and longer-term corporate goals. I believe this is impacting the company’s prospects.”

Wilson says he voted against the re-election of former Starbucks executive Michael Casey and RoAnn Costin, president of a private U.S. equity company.

He says his vote against the two directors sends a signal to the financial community that Lululemon must address the board member issue if the company is to recover.

Wilson founded the company in 1998, is a board member and holds a 27 per cent stake in the company.

He recently stepped down as chairman, easing out of other responsibilities at the Lululemon.

In January 2012, he left the role of chief innovation and branding officer around the time the retailer was grappling with supply issues that left its stores unable to meet escalating demand for its yoga wear.

Several months later, the company was facing an issue of having notably more yoga wear than it could sell, as the value of its inventory rose 67 per cent.

By early 2013, Lululemon was embroiled in a controversy over its hip-hugging black Luon pants, which it pulled from store shelves due to a problem with the sheerness of the material.