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Lululemon released a fresh, five-year growth plan on Wednesday ahead of its first investor day five years and the first under new CEO Calvin McDonald.
The sports-bra and leggings maker says it plans to double sales of its men's and online businesses and quadruple international revenues, by 2023. It's targeting annual revenue growth in the low teens over the next five years. And it's now expecting operating income growth to exceed revenue growth each year, with "modest" gross margin expansion, and earnings-per-share growth either equating to or exceeding operating income growth annually.
Analysts and investors are looking to see if McDonald, who joined Lululemon as CEO in August from cosmetics company Sephora after Laurent Potdevin was ousted amid misconduct allegations, can keep the momentum going at the athletic apparel company.
Lululemon shares were about 1% higher by Wednesday afternoon. They have surged more than 80% over the past 12 months, compared with the S&P 500 Retail ETF's (XRT's) growth of just 1.5%.
"It's now been nine months since I joined Lululemon. ... And the one word that kept resonating in any market I've [traveled to] was the opportunity that still rests ahead for Lululemon in both North America, in any international market, in our stores," McDonald told analysts. "There's a huge opportunity for us to build upon where we are today."
Key areas of focus at Lululemon include the expansion of its men's business, growth overseas in markets like China, shaping a stronger e-commerce platform and building a base of loyal shoppers. One initiative has been its testing of a new loyalty program, where members pay an annual fee for perks including expedited shipping and workout classes.
To help boost online sales, Lululemon says it plans to take its buy online, pick up in store option from 35 shops today to its entire fleet in North America by this back-to-school shopping season. It's also growing its online assortment to be double what it sells in stores. And to better serve men, Lululemon says it's adding more items designed specifically for them, like better-fitting running shirts, instead of just building on previous women's lines.
"We have very low brand awareness with men," still, McDonald said. "The opportunity isn't just to be known," he said, "but also being understood" as a brand that men — not just women — can shop. Lululemon recently signed a deal with former Eagles quarterback Nick Foles to become its first men's ambassador, as it makes strides to raise awareness among male consumers.
Rivals Nike and Under Armour, meantime, have said they plan to target female shoppers more with new yoga pants and sports bras, threatening to wade into Lululemon's turf. But Lululemon, in turn, has said its men's business presents the biggest growth opportunity. It has said it's on track to get that business to $1 billion in sales annually by next year. It's also getting into personal-care products, like deodorant, searching for other ways to lure shoppers to its stores. And it says it soon plans to launch its own shoes.
McDonald said Lululemon is also planning to invest more "in creating dynamic experiential moments" for customers. That includes opening a 25,000-square-foot store in Lincoln Park in Chicago this July, which will have yoga studios, meditation spaces, and juice and food. And by 2023, about 10% of Lululemon's total bricks-and-mortar fleet will be considered "experiential" like this Chicago store, the CEO said.
In the latest fiscal year, Lululemon's sales amounted to $3.3 billion, with sales at stores open for at least 12 months surging 18%, compared with growth of 7% during the prior year.
Nike, which brought in $36.4 billion in sales globally in 2018, holds 18.3% of the overall U.S. sportswear market, which includes apparel and footwear, according to data compiled by Euromonitor. Adidas is second with 6%, Under Armour with 4.1%, Skechers with 2.6% and Lululemon with 1.9% as of the end of 2018, according to the firm.
In the women's athletic apparel category, though, Lululemon is second to Nike, according to data compiled by NPD Group.
Ahead of Wednesday's meeting, a handful of analysts said they believe Lululemon will reach its revenue goal — for $4 billion by next year — ahead of schedule. Nomura Instinet analyst Simeon Siegel believes the retailer's sales can eclipse $6.5 billion by 2023.
"However, it seems either sales or margins are approaching a peak," Siegel said in a note to clients. "It seems more likely [management] works to maintain sales growth at the expense of some margin than vice versa."