Lululemon’s surprise split with CEO said to involve employee relationship

Former Chief Executive Officer Laurent Potdevin

Lululemon Athletica Inc.’s reasons for parting ways with Chief Executive Officer Laurent Potdevin included a relationship that he had with a subordinate, according to people familiar with the situation.

The employee, who worked as a designer at the yogawear brand, resigned in 2014 but later came back as a contractor, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the matter isn’t public. Her contract wasn’t renewed in 2018, they said. CNBC previously reported on Potdevin’s relationship, saying it was an issue that contributed to the executive’s abrupt departure.

The incident was just a part of the misconduct allegations that led to Potdevin’s resignation, the people said. But it offers a window into Lululemon’s decision-making process ahead of the surprise split with its chief after a four-year tenure. When the apparel company announced the move earlier this week, it cited misbehavior by the 50-year-old Potdevin but didn’t offer specifics.