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Here's How Lululemon Wants You to See Its New CEO

By Steve Symington - Dec 11, 2013 at 10:46AM

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Lululemon just announced that Laurent Potdevin will soon take the helm from Christine Day as CEO. Here's what investors need to know.

In June, shares of lululemon athletica (LULU 5.20%) absolutely unraveled after the yoga apparel specialist unexpectedly announced the pending resignation of Christine Day, its visionary CEO of more than five years. 

And while Day was undoubtedly a popular figure with customers and investors alike, she not only assured everyone she would actively lead the company until a worthy successor was found, but also asserted that the necessary building blocks were in place for Lululemon's long-term success.

On Tuesday, Lululemon took to the Web with this video to elegantly introduce its newly chosen CEO, Laurent Potdevin:

Curiously enough, while the introduction has no dialogue, it's absolutely loaded with references to Potdevin's past.

First, note the "Pray for Snow" hat and snowboard as he walks down the stairs. Potdevin worked at snowboarding gear and apparel specialist Burton for 15 years, including a five-year stint as president and CEO from 2005 through 2010.

Potdevin then grabs an item out of the fridge, the door of which is plastered not only with pictures of himself surfing and snowboarding, but also of children who appear to be from developing countries -- a reference to his work for the past three years as president of socially conscious shoe maker Toms.

We also see Potdevin place an "I <3 LA" coffee cup (a nod to his current place of residence and Toms' headquarters) next to a group of several leadership books, including The First 90 Days, The Leadership Pipeline, and Good to Great -- all humble indications of the challenges Potdevin will face in honing Lululemon's corporate culture and correcting the company's recent supply chain-related quality issues.

Then, just before he slips off his Toms shoes in preparation to sign his CEO contract, Potdevin grabs a pen from beside some European bills, a stylish watch, a pair of sunglasses, and knit hat bearing a Louis Vuitton logo. Incidentally, he started his career at Louis Vuitton parent LVMH, where, in his words, "very early on I learned about the importance of quality and craftsmanship." 

But despite the video's lack of spoken words, that's not to say Lululemon intends to leave its new leader without a voice. Later that day, the company also released a second short in which Potdevin offers a brief verbal introduction:

In any case, both pieces stand in stark contrast to the gruff, halfhearted video apology offered by Lululemon's founding chairman Chip Wilson a few weeks ago -- which was labeled the "worst ever" by Good Morning America, by the way -- in response to the outspoken billionaire's latest round of inflammatory comments.

It should come as little surprise, then, that Lululemon's CEO announcement arrived simultaneously with Wilson's resignation as chairman of the board. Sometime prior to the company's annual meeting in June, Wilson will be replaced as chairman with lead director and former Starbucks exec Michael Casey.

Even so, that doesn't mean Wilson will be entirely absent from the business he created. After all, SEC filings earlier this year showed he still controls roughly a quarter of all outstanding shares, and he'll remain a director of the company going forward. But it also seems safe to bet Wilson will at least be stepping out of the limelight for a while to let the dust settle.

Time will tell whether Potdevin will be able to to steer Lululemon in the right direction over the long term. All things considered, however, I think he seems a fantastic fit a Lululemon's new CEO.

And who knows? With Lululemon set to announce quarterly earnings results this Thursday, investors will be watching closely for any signs that the lasting negative effects from its early 2013 recall have finally subsided. If that happens and Lululemon can show it's already back on track, Potdevin could enjoy a solid head start in his newly launched efforts at the helm of this promising business.

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