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Men — Lululemon Wants You To Shop There So It Can Open More Stores

Lululemon, best known for its sports bras and $100 yoga pants, is planning to support its drive to open new stores — including new concepts — partly by encouraging men to shop at its U.S. stores.

A Lululemon Athletica location

"With just over 20% penetration today, we really believe that Lululemon can be a dual-gender brand and that our men's business can ultimately be as big as our women's," Lululemon Chief Operating Officer Stuart Haselden said in March during an earnings call. 

The company will add menswear to its lineup, as well as new products for women.

The move to attract men would be a variation of the company's efforts to bring men into its stores in countries where there is no previous brand awareness of Lululemon as a women's wear specialist. The company's previous CEO, Laurent Potdevin, kicked off that initiative in 2016.

The company is already on track to bring men into U.S. stores, Haselden said.

"We're seeing increases, for example, in our Mall of America location, where we expanded the square footage from 3K to 5K," Haselden said. "We doubled the size of our men's shop there and we saw our sales in men's up 80% with essentially the same inventory."

Lululemon also recently inked a deal with Nick Foles, a former Eagles quarterback, to become its first men’s ambassador as part of the effort to raise awareness of the brand among male consumers, CNBC reports.

Besides goosing its sales to men, the company has unveiled a five-year growth plan to boost online sales across the board. Lululemon makes 26% of its sales online.

Among other things, the company plans to expand its buy online/pick up in store option to all of its North American stores, up from 35 locations now. The company has about 440 global stores, with about half of those in the United States and more than 60 in Canada.

Physical and online sales growth would come from a position of strength for Lululemon. Its net revenue increased 24% year over year in 2018 to $3.3B, and same-store sales for the year were up 18%.

At Lululemon’s annual analyst day on Wednesday, the company detailed its four different store formats: a pop-up, a 3K SF store, a 5,500 SF store and a 35K SF experiential store. 

In July, the company will open its first experiential store in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago. It will feature yoga studios, meditation space, healthy juice and food offerings, and areas for community gatherings, Chain Store Age reports. The company says about 10% of its locations will be experiential like the Chicago store by 2023.

Though the company didn't specify the number of stores it plans to open in the future, it projected annual square footage growth in the low double-digits into the early 2020s.