Gap and Victoria's Secret both made offers to acquire Lululemon in the early 2000s, the athleisure company's founder reveals in new tell-all book
- Lululemon founder Chip Wilson reveals in a new tell-all book that Gap, Victoria's Secret, and Liz Claiborne made bids to acquire the company in the early 2000s.
- Wilson criticized Gap's $200 million buyout offer, writing that it was "inadequate" and that at the time, the company was "sucking on all cylinders."
- Gap later acquired Athleta - a major competitor of Lululemon - for $150 million.
The controversial creator of the first athleisure brand revealed that he was approached by Gap, Liz Claiborne, and Victoria's Secret with buyout offers in the early 2000s.
Wilson writes that Victoria's Secret sent a letter to Lululemon in 2004 expressing its interest in the company.
"We were flattered, but it didn't take us long to agree that wasn't a direction we wanted to go," he writes.
A spokesperson for Victoria's Secret declined to comment on the matter to Business Insider.
Wilson says he was also approached by women's apparel brand Liz Claiborne, which offered to buy Lululemon for $500 million, with $100 million to be paid out each year over five years. He turned down the offer in part because the company's culture was too "corporate," he writes. The Liz Claiborne brand was sold to JCPenney in 2011, and the parent company later renamed itself Fifth & Pacific. This then became Kate Spade & Company before it was acquired by Tapestry in 2017.
But in the book, Wilson reserves his criticism for Gap Inc., which, he writes, made an offer of $200 million for a full buyout of Lululemon. Wilson describes the offer as "inadequate."
He writes that the company was "sucking on all cylinders" at the time and that "their stores looked like bowling alleys."
A spokesperson for Gap did not immediately return Business Insider's request for comment.
Gap went on to acquire Athleta for $150 million in 2008. At the time, Athleta was a yoga, running, skiing, snowboarding, and surfing gear company, selling its products online and via catalog. Today, Athleta has 154 locations in North America and has become one of the biggest areas of growth for its parent company.
In its most recent earnings results, management said that the 2% same-store sales growth at Gap Inc. was largely driven by the success of its Athleta and Old Navy brands. Teri List-Stoll, EVP and CFO of Gap Inc., described these stores as "engines of growth."
Read more about the Lululemon founder:
- Chip Wilson reveals the one question he asked himself every day while building Lululemon into the $18 billion company it is today
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- Lululemon founder Chip Wilson describes how he made the company's ex-CEO cry, slams Under Armour, and insults Diet Coke-drinking women, in a new tell-all book
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