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Jun 2, 2017

Lululemon cost itself 'billions' by not answering my questions: Chip Wilson

Chip Wilson on Lululemon: How does a company with strong financials have a sinking stock?

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Lululemon founder Chip Wilson claims he could have saved the company billions, if they’d wanted to hear what he had to say.

Wilson said he didn’t expect to take part in the company’s 2017 annual general meeting on June 8, since last year’s affair was a voice-only webcast.

“Last year when I did attend, I asked my questions and they didn’t answer them and I think that probably cost the company billions of dollars this year,” Wilson told BNN in an interview on Friday. “So, I don’t know how to attend it and I think this is a real issue for the SEC to really look at.”

“It’s a virtual meeting, so if I ask my questions and they don’t answer them, I don’t see much point in attending... I asked some fundamental questions of the board last year and they didn’t answer them. I think this goes back to the board doing some inspection on themselves.”

Wilson chastised the company’s virtual meeting decision, calling it ‘unresponsive’ in an editorial written for The Globe and Mail last year. In that article he admitted that the company did respond to one of his email questions last year, after paraphrasing.

The company stated that the virtual platform was to accommodate shareholders regardless of where they're located.

"Over the years Lululemon has explored different models in various geographies but given the Vancouver HQ, believe the virtual meeting provides increased shareholder attendance and enhanced communication access as it allows participation from any location around the world," a spokeswoman told BNN.ca.  

Lululemon (LULU.O) announced its first quarter earnings on Thursday, beating profit estimates with a five per cent jump in revenue at US$520.3. The company also announced that it would close 40 of its 55 Ivivva stores, which sell athleticwear for girls.

Despite the earnings beat, Wilson believes the company needs to examine why its share price – which rose as much as 14 per cent on an intraday basis on Friday – has lost more than 30 per cent of its value since its current 12-month high north of US$80 in late August.

“You have to look at what has happened to the stock over a long period of time… Over a five-year period the stock is down 100 per cent to the S&P, it’s down 50 per cent to the growth in the athletic market. And you go: How does a company with such strong financials … Why does its stock keep dropping?”