Lululemon Athletica may soon find itself in a battle over the yoga gear maker’s future direction, as founder Dennis “Chip” Wilson is reportedly working with bankers at Goldman Sachs as he mulls options for shaking up the company’s board.
The founder could launch a proxy fight to win additional board seats or partner with a private-equity firm in a buyout, according to a Wall Street Journal report, which cited a person familiar with the matter. The battle for control of Lululemon (LULU) first surfaced publicly earlier this month when Wilson disclosed he voted against the reelection of two board members, lamenting the board was too focused on short-term results.
Though that vote ultimately failed, as both Chairman Michael Casey and fellow board member RoAnn Costin were reelected, the retailer is struggling to find its footing after a debacle in March 2013 when it was forced to pull some of its popular pants after a mistake by a supplier left the pants somewhat see-through. Lululemon, a day after the board vote, lowered its sales and profit forecast for the year following another poor quarter.
A potential spat at Lululemon couldn’t come at a worse time, as the company is facing a ton of competition in the yoga specialty retailing segment. Gap (GPS) is planning a massive expansion of its Athleta chain which directly competes with Lululemon. And VF Corp (VFC) is building out its small Lucy brand.
Meanwhile, Lululemon’s board has sought advice from bankers in response, the Wall Street Journal reported. Reportedly, no one has approached the board about possibly buying the company.