Lululemon shutters men's only stores
Lululemon closed its two men's only stores in the fourth quarter, in SoHo and Toronto, a company spokesperson told Retail Dive in an emailed statement. The SoHo men's store was consolidated with two other locations to form a larger "experiential location" on Broadway.
When asked about future men's only locations, the spokesperson said the company was "focused on our co-located strategy," and noted that the men's business has been experiencing growth, including a comps rise of 26% in Q1 and revenue growth of 33%.
"We learned that guests respond well to lululemon as a dual-gender brand, and when we expand our stores, we create space to merchandise the men's assortment in a more impactful way," the spokesperson said.
Despite success in its men's business, including a goal to double revenues in the men's business by 2023, Lululemon seems to be backing down from pursuing standalone men's concepts.
A company spokesperson pointed to Lululemon's test-and-learn mentality with regards to the concept, saying the retailer believes having men's and women's co-located, rather than independent, will help to drive growth in the men's business.
Lululemon isn't the only female-focused athletics retailer to branch into men's after launch. Gap Inc.'s Athleta brand, frequently a bright spot in the retailer's earnings results, announced a men's brand in September, which debuted in October. At launch, Hill City was being displayed at 50 Athleta stores in addition to selling online.
If the trajectory of Lululemon's men's stores is any indication, Gap Inc. might find better success selling the two brands in one location rather than separately. That being said, Hill City has a distinct brand name, rather than being a branch of the core Athleta business, which could help any Hill City-branded stores stand alone.
The retailer is now also facing competition from the likes of Nike, which announced its own dedicated yoga line geared toward both men and women in January. Unlike Lululemon, Nike seems to be trying to attract a more casual yoga practicer; The retailer launched the line with a whole roster of professional athletes from different spaces, from sprinters to basketball players to football players.
As for Lululemon, the men's stores may have been a test that didn't quite pan out, but the athletics retailer has other experiments up its sleeve to differentiate it from the rest of the crowd, including a "dual-gender" self-care line, which debuted at Sephora, as well as Lululemon's own stores and website, on Tuesday.