Lululemon Names Calvin McDonald CEO

Calvin McDonald will take over the reins of Lululemon Athletica Inc. as chief executive officer on Aug. 20.

McDonald, who spent five years as president and chief executive officer of the Americas at Sephora, fills a void left when Laurent Potdevin resigned in February. At the time, the company said Potdevin failed to meet its standards for integrity.

Now the company is hoping for a fresh start.

Glenn Murphy, Lululemon’s chairman, said, “Calvin McDonald has an impressive track record leading organizations through periods of significant growth and innovation. He is the ideal match for the Lululemon brand and culture given his strong consumer mind-set, performance-driven approach and success developing people.”

Murphy added that each Lululemon board member met with McDonald “during our thorough process. We’re confident Calvin will maintain the momentum in the business and take Lululemon to new heights.”

Despite the c-suite void, investors have been rushing to buy shares of Lululemon. The stock has gained 56.2 percent since mid March, when it weighed in with fourth-quarter results showing an 18 percent increase in revenues, to $928.8 million. Shares of the firm closed down 1.9 percent to $122.98 before McDonald was named ceo late Tuesday.

Once McDonald joins on Aug. 20, Murphy will return to serving in the role of nonexecutive chairman. Three executives — Celeste Burgoyne, Stuart Haselden and Sun Choe — who helmed the day-to-day operations since Potdevin’s departure in February, will report to McDonald. They are Celeste Burgoyne, Stuart Haselden and Sun Choe.

McDonald said, “I’m joining Lululemon at an exciting time, with the brand’s strong business momentum, guest loyalty and passionate employees.” He added that he is looking forward to working with the team 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.”

McDonald, 46, was born and educated in Canada. He will also join the Lululemon board. He is also on the board of Cole Haan and the National Retail Federation. McDonald is also a frequent competitor in ironman distance triathlons and marathons. He and his wife, Andrea, and their four children will relocate to Vancouver.

Under McDonald’s leadership, Sephora — long recognized as a growth engine within the LVMH family of luxury brands — delivered double-digit growth year-after-year and became the market leader in North and South America. During his tenure, he expanded product offerings, established digital and mobile platforms and created innovative in-store experiences for customers that led to a loyalty program that has more than 25 million members.

McDonald also established the Sephora Innovation Lab to test digital experiences across the web, mobile and brick-and-mortar, and he started Sephora Studios, a concept format that offers more personalized shopping experiences in local communities. The brand also introduced a home subscription model that drives consumers to Sephora’s YouTube channel, and has expanded into other global markets such as Brazil and Mexico. And another highlight was Sephora Accelerate, which supports entrepreneurial leaders at female-led beauty start-ups through guidance and resources focused on social impact. According to the site Glassdoor.com, Sephora ranked McDonald as one of the top 50 ceo’s to work for each year from 2015 to 2017.

While Sephora starts the hunt for its next Sephora Americas ceo, the company’s six-member operating committee will lead the North America business, reporting to global ceo Christopher de Lapuente. Satish Malhotra, chief operating officer and a 20-year Sephora veteran, is operating committee chair. Flavia Bittencourt, Latin America regional vice president, will report to de Lapuente.

“I thank Calvin for his outstanding leadership of Sephora Americas over the past five years,” de Lapuente said. “Calvin strengthened our Sephora Americas’ management team with great talent and strategic vision across all functions. I am confident that the team and structure we have in place will ensure a seamless transition as we continue to deliver the unique retail experience that defines Sephora for our clients and brand partners.”

McDonald’s departure comes during a shift in the U.S. beauty industry. Sephora — which emerged as the dominant specialty beauty retailer in recent years, something McDonald helped to cement — is facing increased competition from Ulta Beauty and other emerging distribution channels.

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