Lululemon is an athletic-wear brand with a primary focus on yoga apparel. Having captured the attention of young women, Lulu has become quite popular across the globe. Lulu has been apparent in my own life because of my active mother and because of the [unfortunate] leggings trend that has nestled its way into the hearts of seemingly every woman. Lulu has been so successful because of the balance it has struck, making it’s clothing sensible and stylish while still maintaining it’s athletic roots.
Over the past year, however, Lulu has seen a slight fall from grace. In 2013, the company was under fire due to a recall for a line of yoga pants that were too sheer. In response, the founder of Lululemon Athletica, Chip Wilson, stated that customer’s fat thighs were to blame for the yoga pants being see-through. As a result, Wilson relinquished his chairman’s seat and Lulu’s CEO, Christine Day, stepped down. The company has since wilted. Considering Lululemon’s status in pop-culture and their current lack of direction, it is primed for acquisition by none other than the world’s leading athletic-wear brand, Nike.
Nike is no stranger to acquiring other brands, as it owns Converse and skateboarding company, Hurley (Nike also purchased Cole Haan in 1998 for $95 million and sold it in 2012 for $570 million). Right now, Lulu lacks a sense of direction. New CEO, Laurent Potdevin, has filled the holes with empty remarks on reclaiming the company’s creative destruction in the market, but the truth is Lulu is floundering. Through Nike’s experience in operations and marketing, it would be able to right this ship. Lulu would gain access to some of the best manufacturing plants and Nike’s rebranding of the company would bring back the positive image it lost hold of.
Financially, this purchase would make sense as well. Lululemon is a direct competitor of Nike. Buying the company would give The Swoosh increased market control and better pricing power. Moreover, Lulu is trading at a relatively inexpensive share price. In 2013, before the company ran into turmoil, Lulu was trading as high as $82 per share. If Nike attempted to buy the brand at this time, it would not have been feasible, as Lulu’s valuation would have been way too high. Since the debacle, though, Lulu is trading around $44 per share, making their valuation much more affordable.
As bad as Lululemon’s situation may seem, their immediate value to Nike would be tremendous. In terms of revenue, Lulu has gone from annual sales of about $453 million in 2010 to $1.6 billion for 2014. This indicates that Lulu is still growing and that it is still relatively popular. Lastly, while Nike does a fantastic job of marketing their clothes for both athletic an street-wear use, there are just certain styles that other clothing company’s manufacture or market more effectively. For example, on campus I never see girls wearing Nike leggings, but I always see them rocking Lululemon’s, recall or not. Its not that Nike’s yoga pants are poor quality, its that Lulu’s ability to be trendy and different has made their yoga pants more attractive. Adding their product to Nike’s line would only make Nike that much more profitable.