Lululemon’s supply chain gets downward dogged

A recent recall by yoga manufacturer, Lululemon, of a batch of pants that were…gasp…see through. Not really something that you want in yoga class, really in any class not done in the privacy of  your own home. The company and stock suffered due to this recall which effects close to 17% of the inventory they carry in their stores and hit the stock with a 5% drop in value. It will be interesting to see how the Canadian company recovers from this recall. This will impact their in store sales as well as potentially drive clients to competitors such as Under Armor, Nike and the Gap.

It is also a PR nightmare. We are talking about a supply chain and design issue that involves a personal garment. It is one thing if Adidas or Nike were found to have a revealing sweat shirt or tank top. Lululemon has attempted to get ahead of the issue, but there is more they can do – what lessons can we learn?

How many pants will be recalled??

How many of these pants will be recalled??

  • Get ahead of the message. Lululemon has put out a large FAQ that answers many questions, albeit not as detailed as one might want – click here for FAQ. They need to do more. Maybe even have some fun with it. Yoga is all about bettering yourself and your mind. Play off this message. Lululemon is practicing good yoga but constantly reassessing and improving themselves. Their design issues and supply chain is part of that process.
  • Get to the bottom of the supply chain issues…ASAP. Clearly there was a break in their supply chain at some point – most likely quality control issues (d’uh). They need to not only resolve the issue, but be transparent about it. Keep your clients aware that you have identified and are taking corrective action. Otherwise we will be left with the thought – you are just going to countries like Vietnam and Taiwan for the low costs and clearly don’t worry as much about quality. Not to be too cynical, but maybe near shore some manufacturing…at least in the short term (sorry I was being cynical there)
  • Love your clients. Again another “d’uh” but sometimes companies forget this. When Apple’s iPhone had antenna issues did they really “love” their clients? I would say no. Jobs responded by blaming manufacturing, see FoxConn, or the way one would hold the phone. Where was the love? So don’t do this. Give a discount for shopping at the store, that could also drive more sales (yes I am again being cynical) make sure you send follow up communications with those clients that were impacted. Oh, and…apologize to those clients for any problems this may have created.

Lululemon will recover from this, I think. But it shows once again how vulnerable we are to any supply chain issues. Add to this social media, and that any issues that strike are instantly public. No company is immune to this, so have a plan on how to deal with this if and when it occurs.

Meanwhile, be conscious of your garment when you are asked to do the table or the wheel in yoga class…unfortunately I have not been able to do either yet. Maybe for the best.




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Filed under Consumer Product Goods, Current Events, Supply Chain

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