Yoga Enterprise

Global retailer Lululemon pushes further into New Zealand


9 May, 2022 02:00 AM

Lululemon says the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the lifestyle brand’s growth. Photo/Supplied

Global athleisure retailer Lululemon is expanding further into New Zealand, with plans to open more stores across the country as it works towards its goal of quadrupling growth.

Last week the Canadian brand opened a
glitzy 350sqm store in Westfield Newmarket – the retailer’s first mall store location in New Zealand, taking the retail company’s local bricks and mortar footprint to eight stores.

Lululemon also has stores in Ponsonby, Takapuna, Commercial Bay, Mount Maunganui, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown. It has been operating in New Zealand since 2011.

Trevor Holland, director of Lululemon in New Zealand and Australia, said Lululemon had his eye on the Newmarket site for quite some time and the interior design of the store was similar to those located throughout the world. While the new store was not the brand’s largest in New Zealand, it offered the largest product assortment, he said.

Lululemon – which started out in Vancouver as a yoga business – has experienced huge growth in the New Zealand market even with the Covid-19 pandemic forcing store closures and disrupting trade.

Holland said the lifestyle brand had been a huge success in the past two years, experiencing huge growth particularly in Christchurch and Wellington.

The brand is exploring opportunities to expand further throughout the country with new store openings, as well as relocating and expanding existing stores.

“One of our global goals is market expansion and that looks different in every part of the globe. There is certainly some expansion [planned] new market entries in countries or communities we’re not currently in that we’re exploring,” Holland told the Herald.

The expansion plan for the New Zealand market was similar to that for Australia, he said.

“Those are both two of our most mature international markets and our growth strategy looks like a combination of a few things: looking for new stores – Newmarket is a perfect example of that; [looking at] where there is a gap where we feel a store would work.

“We don’t just want to put a store [though] and try and make it work, it is [dependent] on the guest really wanting it, and where a lot of sales are coming through our e-commerce.

“The other strategies are relocation or optimization – expanding or refurbishing stores.”

Later in the year, Lululemon will begin the relocation of two of its local stores. Holland said the retailer would soon begin refreshing half of its local store portfolio, either through refurbishment or relocation.

He was tight-lipped on if there were any new store openings in the works.

“We’re definitely exploring where there are those other pockets of opportunity and communities that we could have a physical presence. Of course, there is e-commerce, but there is something special about a physical store.”

Lululemon's newly opened Newmarket store.  Photo/SuppliedLululemon’s newly opened Newmarket store. Photo/SuppliedInside the Newmarket store.  Photo/SuppliedInside the Newmarket store. Photo/Supplied

Asia Pacific is a major focus for bricks and mortar expansion for the company. It is currently expanding its store network in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Korea and Japan.

Lululemon started in Vancouver as a boutique yoga business, which made apparel upstairs above its fitness studio. The business is hugely popular in its native North America and has stores throughout Europe, China and the Asia Pacific.

Today it has more than 550 stores worldwide.

“There’s definitely an expansion focus on APAC overall.”

Trevor Holland, director of Lululemon in New Zealand and Australia.  Photo/SuppliedTrevor Holland, director of Lululemon in New Zealand and Australia. Photo/Supplied

In 2019, listed Lululemon outlined that it had plans to “quadruple growth by 2023”. During a recent analyst day, the company shared that it was on track to achieve that goal early.

“There is a lot of opportunity in the international markets. The brand is resonating across different cultures and countries.”

Holland said Lululemon had largely benefitted from the pandemic as more consumers had realized their need to be physically fit since the onset of Covid-19. “I’d say it has helped accelerate growth for us – there have certainly been challenges with having a lot of our physical stores closed – but [ultimately] I do think it has helped accelerate the growth of the brand.”

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