Retail Pulse: lululemon Gets New CEO; IKEA Gears Up For First India Store

Lululemon Athletica

Sales at lululemon athletica have fared well despite retail industry woes, but the company has experienced a challenging start to the year on the executive front: The retailer’s former chief executive, Laurent Potdevin, abruptly resigned in February after reportedly exhibiting behavior that failed to meet the company’s standards.

But it appears the company may be turning a new leaf in its C-suite as it brings Calvin McDonald onboard as its new chief executive. McDonald is no stranger to the retail industry: He has previously served as the president and CEO of Americas for Sephora. In a press release, lululemon said that McDonald brought Sephora double-digital growth year after year, broadened its product offerings and expanded the company in international markets such as Mexico and Brazil.

Before joining Sephora, McDonald served as president and CEO of Sears Canada. In addition, he served in management roles during a 17-year period at Loblaw Companies Ltd., which is the biggest retailer in Canada. (It should be noted, too, that lululemon is based in Canada.)

McDonald said in the release that he’s joining the company at an “exciting time.” And he hinted about an omnichannel vision by saying that he looked forward to “working with the talented team at lululemon to deliver long-term growth through great product, constant innovation and serving guests however they choose to engage with us, today and into the future.”

Even so, McDonald has his work cut out for him: All eyes are on him as he joins and manages the company following multiple faux-pas that have challenged its reputation, while still ensuring the brand’s growth. Chip Wilson, the brand’s founder and a former CEO, made controversial comments following a scandal involving lulelemon pants that were too sheer.

Yet McDonald comes to the company at a time when its stock has skyrocketed by nearly 80 percent in the past year. And, in addition, the retailer reported a rise in net revenue of 23 percent from the previous year to almost $650 million for the first quarter. At the same time, McDonald faces a healthy market as he takes the reins: Women’s activewear brands have been a rapidly growing market segment for the last several years, as companies such as Fabletics plan expansions.

In Other Brick-And-Mortar News…

IKEA is opening its first brick-and-mortar location in India. The store, which will be in the city of Hyderabad, marks a departure from the retailer’s do-it-yourself business model: IKEA plans to have a 150-person assembly team at that location. The company decided to create the team after research showed that many consumers in the local market would not want to assemble furniture on their own.

Beyond assembly services, the new location will also stock products that are geared toward the preferences of the local market. It will offer lunchboxes that can accommodate multi-course meals, as well as mattresses with coconut fibers. In addition, the store’s restaurant will offer chicken or vegetable meatballs, as local consumers don’t eat pork or beef.

Kroger had its own take on Amazon’s Prime Day: While Amazon shipped over 100 million products in Prime Day’s first 24 hours despite technical difficulties, Kroger said that it sells approximately 110 million items on an average day at its stores. The company has nearly 2,800 locations, Bloomberg reported.

Even so, Kroger takes in only $340 million in revenue on an average day. By comparison, Amazon is estimated to have taken in $4.2 billion on Prime Day, per one analyst. Still, Amazon did face outages as customers rushed to the site during the 36-hour shopping event.

And Walmart customers have a new way to travel to their local stores: To offer shoppers rides in self-driving vehicles, Alphabet’s Waymo is starting a trial run for Walmart customers in Arizona. Shoppers in the Phoenix area can hitch a ride in a self-driving car to pick up their online grocery orders from, Reuters reported.

Beyond Walmart, Waymo is working with DDR Corp. to provide diners and shoppers with rides to a shopping center in Chandler, Arizona. And Waymo has also grown a partnership with Avis Budget Group and AutoNation, Inc. that provides customers with a Waymo ride instead of a rental car when their personal vehicles are in the shop.



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