Coach is losing its president and chief operating officer — and rumors in the industry are that he may be leaving to take the top spot at Lululemon.
Jerry Stritzke will resign from Coach effective Sept. 2 “to pursue other interests,” the company, which reported dismal fourth-quarter earnings today, said in a statement. Coach “cannot provide additional comments” around his exit, Andrea Shaw Resnick, a spokeswoman for the company said in an email to BuzzFeed. A representative for Lululemon said the company has no updates at this time on its search for a new chief executive officer.
Stritzke, who has worked at Coach since March 2008, joined Lululemon’s board last year and was noted as a possible contender for the CEO spot there in a Women’s Wear Daily article in June. Lululemon’s superstar CEO Christine Day abruptly said last month that she would resign after five years for “personal reasons” once a successor was found, sending the company’s stock into a tailspin.
“Since he’s already on their board, it likely signals that they like, respect and trust him,” said Howard Gross, managing director of the retail and fashion practice at executive search firm Boyden in New York. “Might make the transition a bit easier than hiring an outsider.”
Lululemon “could certainly make a convincing case for appointing him CEO,” he said.
Stritzke has a long history in retail — he held a number of top positions at Victoria’s Secret parent L Brands before joining Coach, including a stint as COO of Victoria’s Secret, helping oversee the brand’s stores, website, Pink, and beauty product line. The Oklahoma State University graduate started his career as a lawyer and, according to Gross, “his professional experience lies more in operations than merchandising.”
Lululemon is seeking a chief executive to oversee the next five to 10 years of growth for the yoga-wear retailer, which has expanded rapidly in the past few years. The new CEO will helm a growing international expansion and the dive into new products, such as a larger men’s segment.
Lululemon did take down the chief executive officer job listing from its website, which was posted last month. (It is unclear if Stritzke has Oprah Winfrey and Bill Clinton on speed dial, as the job listing specified.)