- Lululemon announced Tuesday that the company has found a new CEO, appointing Calvin McDonald to the position effective Aug. 20, according to a company press release emailed to Retail Dive.
- McDonald succeeds former Lululemon CEO Laurent Potdevin, who resigned from the company in February under misconduct allegations, leaving behind both a strong growth record at the retailer and a muddled brand image.
- For the past five years, McDonald has served as president and CEO of Sephora's Americas division, taking the helm of a brand that is wildly popular and continues to buoy both LVMH and J.C. Penney, where it has installations.
A new CEO and a fresh start is good news for Lululemon, which started off 2018 by ousting Potdevin and fighting to maintain a positive image with women — the key demographic for its pricey leggings and sports bras.
Although the retailer continued to grow after Potdevin's departure, moving on with a new CEO could help put those brand-image problems to rest. McDonald has the chance to prove to consumers that Lululemon is not only a female-focused brand, but also respects the female consumers it's catering to.
Lululemon isn't the only athletics retailer suffering from a brand image that doesn't quite align with its executives' behavior. Nike faces similar problems as it tries to recover from the departure of several top executives and shore up the goodwill of both consumers and its employees.
While Nike's most recent move to correct that culture was a review (and subsequent increase) of salaries, Lululemon snagging a Sephora exec provides an opportunity to jumpstart changes in company culture. In the years that McDonald worked at Sephora, the company began the Sephora Accelerator program, which focuses on supporting female entrepreneurs in the beauty space. Strategically, McDonald's background could also be a good fit for Lululemon. During his tenure, the beauty retailer debuted the small Sephora Studio concept, which was created as a more personal and experiential store format. Lululemon has also experimented with concept spaces, opening a meditation studio in a New York store in July 2017.
Although Sephora and Lululemon operate in different categories, both beauty and athleisure are booming markets with huge potential, and McDonald's expertise at a retailer that is notorious for innovative store designs and a positive company culture that respects — and bolsters — employees, is a good route for Lululemon to take going forward.
It's also clear that the company took care in choosing McDonald, with Glenn Murphy, chairman of the board of directors at Lululemon, noting, "Each member of our Board met him during our thorough process. We're confident Calvin will maintain the momentum in the business and take lululemon to new heights."