With three other c-level spots already vacant — senior vice president of logistics, executive vice president of design and executive vice president of merchandising — insiders are uncertain of the brand’s direction and wonder who might be able to fill Day’s formidable shoes.
“Not many people can,” said Sam Poser, a retail analyst at Stern Agee. “Skill set and culture will be an extremely big challenge. It would be great if they can find a Nike person who could do it, but it’s unlikely because Lululemon is more of a retail business. I think Lululemon has more in common with Nordstrom than Nike or Under Armour.”
According to Poser, the best candidate would come from a brand with an almost cultlike following and a strong retail presence, such as Apple, Nordstrom Inc., J. Crew Group or an LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton brand.
Coach Inc. president and chief operating officer Jerry Stritzke, who serves as a Lululemon board member, has emerged as a leading candidate for Day’s job, according to many observers.
In the months leading up to Day’s unexpected departure decision, Lululemon recalled a hefty shipment of black yoga pants deemed too sheer — a mistake that would not only cost the company an estimated $67 million in lost sales, but also chief product officer Sheree Waterson her job in April.
Sources told WWD that when the yoga-inspired firm experienced those sourcing problems, Stritzke reached out to play a meaningful role in correcting Lululemon’s sourcing woes.
Up until then, the Vancouver-based maker of fashionable activewear had enjoyed a string of positive headlines, a relatively low profile and strong financial results. Despite the yoga pant recall, Lululemon ended fiscal 2012 with a 46.7 percent gain in net income to $271.4 million, or $1.85 a diluted share, on a 37 percent jump in annual revenue to $1.37 billion.
“If Stritzke is sitting on the board and has a somewhat relevant background, they may view him as the next leader,” said Howard Gross, managing director of executive search firm Boyden.
Lew Frankfort, Coach’s longtime ceo, will retire in January but remain executive chairman. The company chose president and chief commercial officer Victor Luis to succeed him, “passing over” Stritzke, a source close to Coach said, adding, “It makes sense.”
Like Day, Stritzke has an operational and managerial background, but he lacks retail experience, one source said, pointing to his colleague Michael Tucci, president of Coach North America, as another viable candidate.
Tucci, a classic retail and merchandising specialist, may have a different background from Day, but he shares her “dynamic” nature, the source offered, but added there’s some “sensitivity to having a woman” in the big job.
Potential female candidates could include Victoria’s Secret ceo and president Sharon Turney, former Bath & Body Works ceo Diane Neal, former Avon Products president and current ceo of Outback Steakhouse Elizabeth Smith and Anne Martin-Vachon, chief merchandising officer at HSN.
HSN ceo Mindy Grossman, a name that is perennially floated, would be a great example of what Lululemon could be looking for, a source said, adding the same for Glen Senk, ceo of David Yurman, although it is unlikely either would take it.
Saks Inc. president and chief merchandising officer Ron Frasch, Judith Ripka president Charles Jayson, Bath & Body Works ceo Nicholas Coe and Urban Outfitters Group ceo Tedford Marlow were all floated as possibilities, but may be long shots.
“They have to move very fast [to replace Day]. These things are process-laden. This is a three-month event,” said Les Berglass, founder and chairman of Berglass + Associates, who noted that hiring a head merchant will take another six months to a year.
In-house talent does not appear to be promotable, he said, adding that the ideal candidate needs to be a leader.
“The ceo is no longer the lead violinist in a company. It’s the orchestra leader,” Berglass said. “You need a true general manager who bridges the world of performance and fashion.”
That aside, what plagued most experts wasn’t who will become ceo, it was why did Day, whom many credit as the visionary of the brand, decide to leave Lululemon so suddenly.
“This reminds me of when Mickey Drexler left the Gap. What you have is a precipitous series of events,” one source said. “I can’t picture the board firing Day. There’s a mystery in there. There was probably a contentious argument between her and the board. She made a lot of money and probably said, ‘I don’t need this.’”
RBC Capital Markets analyst Howard Tubin wondered if Day was asked to leave, following the black-pant fiasco.
“It’s just too close to an issue to remove it from the reason why she’s leaving,” he noted.
A former Starbucks executive, Day won’t likely be unemployed for long, as she had emerged as one of the industry’s brightest ceo’s and had been largely regarded as the chief architect of Lululemon’s success.
While Kenneth Cole Productions Inc. is looking for a ceo, Day might land back in consumer products at Starbucks or Apple, as Ron Johnson’s old gig as retail chief is still vacant, experts mused. Others surmised that Day could go to J. Crew or return to the activewear world, running Gap Inc.’s Athleta brand, or the women’s businesses of rivals such as Nike or Adidas.
“Just about anything’s open to her,” said Elaine Hughes, founder and ceo of search firm E.A. Hughes, who noted that she could take a top job at one of VF Corp.’s lifestyle brands or even go to J.C. Penney Co. Inc.
“She could be a breath of fresh air at Penney’s, but she’d be wise to look under the covers first,” Hughes said.
There'll be no rest for those headed to Europe for men's, as Paris just closed the gap with Milan. According to a provisional calendar released by the Chambre Syndicale, Paris Men's Week will now open a day earlier on January 16. See new highlights on the official lineup on WWD.com. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @kukukuba)
BREAKING: Jonathan Saunders is leaving @DVF. The designer has resigned from his position as chief creative officer of Diane von Furstenberg, the company said in a statement on Friday. At the time of his hire, von Furstenberg said Saunders’ arrival symbolized and facilitated her stepping back from the day-to-day duties that occupy the work of a full-time creative director. The British designer joined DVF in May 2016 and was in charge of all product categories. #wwdnews
For @versace_official’s spring ad campaign, the brand emphasized the archival prints from the spring tribute collection dedicated to the late Gianni Versace. Closing out the show were five of Gianni’s favorite models: Cindy, Naomi, Carla, Helena, and Claudia. Bowing on December 18, the new campaign is yet another tribute to supermodel-dom as the images by Steven Meisel are fronted by @iamnaomicampbell, @cturlington, @gisele and more. #wwdfashion
Four-time Oscar-nominated actress Annette Bening has been waiting 20 years to play Gloria Graham in "Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool," which will be released on December 29. The movie about Graham – a Hollywood star known for her controversial relationship with a younger Englishman named Peter Turner – is based off a memoir Turned wrote. "She felt vulnerable to him, because she loved him, she really did love him. And anyone that we really truly are in love with, we re vulnerable to in a very deep way," said Bening. Read our full interview with the modern icon of an actress on WWD.com. #wwdeye (📷: @ninebagatelles; Styled by @cristinaehrlich)
The crisp white button down: a staple that can be dressed up or down and accessorized throughout the decades. Here, on a Art Basel-goer in 2017 on the left and on the iconic Audrey Hepburn in “Roman Holiday” in 1953 on the right. #tbt #wwdfashion (📷: Andrew Morales)
Known for her work with @victoriassecret, 25-year-old model @georgiafowler is raising her profile in Hollywood. Fowler stars in @vincecamuto’s holiday campaign, which launched in partnership with “Pitch Perfect 3.” “Almost every shoot with Vince Camuto, I’ve had to face a fear…It was definitely a challenge. I’m so grateful for it, though. I’ve always wanted to be a pop star, so that was the perfect chance,” Fowler said. Head to WWD.com to read about Fowler’s experience modeling, including at the #VSFashionShow, and her relationship with Nick Jonas. #wwdeye (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
EXCLUSIVE: Huda Kattan just became the first beauty influencer to land a major beauty deal. Kattan's business, @hudabeauty, has received a minority investment from private equity firm TSG Consumer Partners. The brand, which industry sources say is on track to do $200 million in retail sales for 2017, will receive support on product, retail and geographic expansion through the deal. Get all the details on the deal and read @_a_collins' interview with Kattan on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: @jgreenery) #wwdbeauty #wwdnews
Peruvian model @juanaburga_official – who is known for walking the runways of @rodarte, @viviennewestwood and @torybuch – is making the move to the big screen with drama “Los Últimos.” The film premiered in Argentina in November and arrives in the U.S. and Europe in 2018. On making the switch from modeling to acting, Burga told WWD: “It’s a completely different thing – a lot of people think it’s similar or try to connect things, especially like getting used to the camera or being looked at all the time or playing these different characrers, but film is a completely different story.” #wwdeye (📷: @jgreenery)
London’s newly opened @designmuseum will look back on the life and work of Azzedine Alaïa in a show that the designer helped to curate before he died of heart failure last month. The retrospective, which Alaïa had worked on with Mark Wilson, chief curator of the @groningermuseum, will look at the impact of his work worldwide. The show, “Azzedine Alaïa: The Couturier,” will run from May 10 to October 7. Read more about the exhibit on WWD.com #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @zefashioninsider)