Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Lululemon Going Public

Most awkward headline of the week:

OTTAWA (AFP) - Yoga clothing retailer Lululemon hopes to raise 200 million dollars in an initial public offering to finance a massive expansion, the company said Tuesday in securities documents.
The Vancouver-based company filed a preliminary prospectus with the US Securities and Exchange Commission outlining plans to list its stock on Nasdaq and Toronto exchanges and use the funds to double the number of its stores.
The company was founded in 1998 at the onset of a swelling North American yoga craze.
As of April, it had 52 stores in Canada, the United States, Australia and Japan selling women's athletic apparel, but plans to open an additional 50 to 60 stores in Canada and the United States by the end of 2008.
"The market for technical athletic apparel is highly competitive, the company said in securities filings.
"Many of our competitors are large apparel and sporting goods companies with strong worldwide brand recognition, such as Nike, Inc. and Adidas AG, which includes the Adidas and Reebok brands."
Indeed, the ancient Indian discipline whose aim is to join mind, body and soul generates about l8 billion dollars annually for moguls such as Los Angeles superstar yoga teacher Bikram Choudhury and his more than 750 franchised studios worldwide leading the way.
Rob Wrubel and George Lichter, who founded and sold the search engine Ask Jeeves, are opening studios called Yoga Works.
And the word itself is used to promote everything from vodka to chakra panties.
Last year, Lululemon reported earnings of 7.7 million dollars and 148.9 million dollars in revenues, growing almost 91.1 percent annually since 2004.

What's odd here is seeing a small retailer/apparel manufacturer go public, rather than seek a buyout by one of the aforementioned apparel giants like Nike, Adidas, et al. $200 million is a snack for the big players in athletic apparel. So the question is, is the public offering in the works due to lack of corporate interest, or a prelude, looking to boost revenue and income through expansion, and then shop for a buyout?

*what does that even mean?

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