As it closes in on plans to enter the footwear market, Lululemon named a new head merchant in Blanca Gonzalez, who starts Feb. 1, the company told Retail Dive in an email Monday.
Gonzalez joins the athleisure powerhouse from rival athletics retailer Nike, where she spent nearly 20 years, including in merchandising and general management roles. At Lululemon, Gonzalez will lead global merchandising strategy for both men's and women's products.
The move comes as Lululemon released updated guidance for its fourth quarter, saying that revenue growth would come in at the high-end of its mid-to-high teens expectations. That still disappointed Wall Street by falling below its expectations, according to MarketWatch.
About a year after Lululemon nabbed Nike veteran Nikki Neuburger for its newly created chief brand officer role, the retailer has recruited again from its larger rival to fill its chief merchant spot.
According to the company, part of Gonzalez's role will be focused on building Lululemon's credibility in the training space. Her experience will "enable lululemon to further expand its product, awareness and consumer base in the run, train and yoga categories – positioning the brand as a global leader in technical apparel for all athletes and sweaty endeavors," the company said.
Gonzalez fills a role that Chief Product Officer Sun Choe previously held, and helps fill out a team that has seen a few changes in the past year. In addition to Neuburger's appointment a year ago, Lululemon named a new CFO in November and lost its chief operating officer to DTC luggage brand Away last January. In October, the company promoted Celeste Burgoyne to the president level, named Stacia Jones vice president and global head of inclusion, diversity, equity and action, and hired Adidas exec André Maestrini to serve as executive vice president of international and help lead those expansion efforts.
"We're thrilled to have Blanca join and lead our Merchandising team with her decades of experience and results in technical apparel," Choe said in a statement. "She brings strong people-first leadership and a global mindset that will allow us to both expand into international markets and continue our trajectory in North America."
Gonzalez expressed excitement at bringing more customers into the brand in more markets and innovating in technical apparel.
Despite the disruption of a global pandemic, the company remains laser focused on its Power of Three growth strategy, which includes doubling men's and digital revenues, and quadrupling international revenues. It has been one of a few solid pandemic winners, even making a $500 million acquisition over the summer as others struggled to survive.