Lululemon founder says company 'has lost its way'

NEW YORK, N.Y. – Founder Chip Wilson blasted Lululemon’s management Wednesday, saying that the yoga clothing company “has lost its way” and that “a call to action is needed.”

Wilson founded Lululemon in 1998 and the Canadian company became well-known for its stretchy yoga pants. He resigned from the company’s board last year. He said in the letter that he has a 14.2 per cent stake in Lululemon.

Wilson said in a letter Wednesday that other companies, such as Under Armour and Nike, are stealing Lululemon’s market share as they boost their selection of yoga pants, leggings and other athletic wear.

He said Lululemon’s management and board needs to come up with a clear strategy to grow. He also said he wants board members to be elected by shareholders every year

“Management competence is uninspiring at best,” he said.

Wilson said he wrote the letter because the company would not allow him to address shareholders at Lululemon’s annual meeting, which is being held Thursday.

Lululemon said in a statement that it has “the right” board members and leadership in place.

“We remain focused on our commitment to inspiring our guests in their sweaty pursuits,” the company said.

Lululemon posted a 15 per cent rise in revenue and 11 per cent rise in profit in the year ending Jan. 31, 2016, compared with the previous year. It will report financial results for its fiscal first quarter next week.

Shares of Lululemon Athletica Inc. rose $1.14 to $66.17 Wednesday. Its shares are up about 10 per cent in the last year.