Lululemon recalls too-sheer yoga pants, lowers sales forecast

Los Angeles TimesMarch 19, 2013 

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Clothing made by Lululemon Athletica Inc. is on display for sale on March 19, 2013 in Pasadena, California. Lululemon removed some of its popular pants from stores for being too sheer. Shares of the Canadian owned company fell 6 percent.

KEVORK DJANSEZIAN — Getty

Lululemon Athletica Inc.’s problem isn’t just that a batch of its black yoga pants were made too sheer and had to be recalled – the popular retailer is now downgrading its financial predictions and watching its stock do a downward dog.

The Vancouver, British Columbia, company said late Monday that it pulled the women’s pants from its stores and e-commerce sites over the weekend after learning that the material was too revealing. The Luon fabric is produced in Vietnam and Taiwan and made with a mix of nylon and Lycra spandex fibers.

In a lengthy FAQ posted on its website, the chain said it was still investigating how a batch of too-skimpy pants was allowed to reach stores in early March. Lululemon hasn’t changed its manufacturers or ingredient quality since 2004, it said.

Or, in the company’s words: “The ingredients, weight and longevity qualities of the women’s black Luon bottoms remain the same but the coverage does not, resulting in a level of sheerness in some of our women’s black Luon bottoms that fall short of our very high standards.”

Lululemon is now offering affected customers full refunds or exchanges while also warning of an impending shortage of black yoga pants. The recalled apparel makes up 17 percent of the women’s pants and crop pants Lululemon sells in stores.

But more than practitioners’ poses are being affected – Lululemon said the “issue will have a significant impact” on its financials.

The company lowered its initial expectations, which had been an 11 percent increase in same-store sales and revenue between $350 million and $355 million for its first fiscal quarter. Now Lululemon is projecting a 5 percent to 8 percent rise in same-store sales and revenue between $333 million and $343 million.

The company will release fourth-quarter and full-year earnings on Thursday. Analyst Sam Poser of Sterne Agee downgraded Lululemon’s shares to a neutral rating from buy, telling investors to back off until quality-control concerns are alleviated.

Lululemon had been riding a recent surge in demand for women’s athletic wear, along with competitors such as Gap Inc.’s Athleta, Under Armour Inc. and even mass-market retailers such as Forever 21 and Victoria’s Secret.

Lululemon shares fell $1.82 Tuesday, or 2.8 percent, to $64.08.

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