Lululemon Athletica Inc. has quietly closed its men’s standalone stores in New York City and Toronto, even as it plans to more than double its men’s business in the next five years. The retailer found that guests respond better to Lululemon “as a dual-gender brand,” spokeswoman Erin Hankinson told Bloomberg News when asked about the locations. “We continually test and learn at Lululemon — which is what we did with the men’s stores.” The men's stores in New York and Toronto opened in 2014 and 2016, respectively. The closing of the men’s concept stores doesn’t mean the athleticwear company is giving up on men, however. Luluemon has said that it expects to more than double its men’s revenues by 2023. And, in the first quarter of 2019, Lululemon's men’s same-store sales grew 26 percent from the year earlier.
Total Retail's Take: While the news of Lululemon closing down its men's stores may seem like a step backward for the retailer, it really is just part of a bigger strategic plan. The retailer, for example, is now focusing on growing beyond its core apparel business — leggings and jogger pants — by selling personal-care products. In fact, as we reported, this week the company launched a lineup of products such as dry shampoo, deodorant, face moisturizer and lip balm that's being sold in 50 stores, online at lululemon.com, at select studio partners in North America, and on Sephora.com. The partnership with Sephora extends Lululemon's ability to reach new guests while partnering with an authority in the personal care space. (It helps that Lululemon’s new CEO, Calvin McDonald, was most recently CEO and president at Sephora.)
In addition to its new personal-care line, Lululemon has also hinted at launching its own line of shoes. Furthermore, buzz is building around the summer opening of a new type of Lululemon store in Chicago that will include yoga studios, a juice bar and space for meditation. Industry analysts are praising these moves. “We believe that the athletic industry remains one of the bright spots in a tough retail environment, and Lululemon has some of the strongest momentum and visibility within the sector,” Wells Fargo analyst Ike Boruchow said in a research note.