Lululemon’s ambitious five-year growth strategy to double its 2021 topline to $12.5 billion by 2026 leans heavily on international expansion. The performance apparel and footwear company intends to quadruple the size of its sales outside North America to approximately $4 billion by focusing on mainland China; “doubling down” on the core markets of the U.K., Germany, South Korea, and Australia; and by “scaling and entering” new countries such as France, Spain, Japan, Singapore and Thailand.

“We’re highly motivated to go after it,” said André Maestrini, Lululemon’s executive vice president of international for the past 14 months, as he addressed attendees at a company investor conference yesterday.

Lululemon’s international segment through 2021 generated a three-year CAGR of 39 percent, ending last year with $957 million in total revenues or 15 percent of the company’s overall topline. The brand’s current store count outside North America includes 37 in the EMEA, 80 in the APAC region and 71 in mainland China. In anticipation of a ramp-up, the company has more than doubled its associate headcount outside North America to 3,300 from 1,500.

Perhaps more than anything, Lululemon needs to improve unaided consumer awareness of its brand in key targeted growth markets. While such recognition stands at 25 percent in the U.S., 15 percent in the U.K. and 7 percent in China, it is only 3 percent each in France and Germany currently, with men’s familiarity with the label at a meager 1 percent in Germany. The company intends to “prioritize its country approach” as it aims to maximize its market share potential and reach its five-year revenue target. In China, for example, the store count is forecast to increase to 220 by the end of 2026, with more flagship stores in tier 1 cities and new doors in tier 2 cities as the brand’s e-commerce approach is accelerated through several vehicles. In the EMEA, Lululemon is promising to deliver product assortments relevant to the market as it expands its store count with a flagship on Champs-Élysées in Paris later this year and with stores in Madrid and Barcelona, Spain and Italy. In Singapore and Tokyo, local consumer fondness for premium brands for their quality and status should benefit the brand, Maestrini commented.

Beyond its international objectives, Lululemon’s five-year growth strategy includes increasing its total net revenue CAGR by 15 percent; doubling the sales of its men’s and digital segments, increasing its total store square footage; expanding its combined e-commerce/store sales at a 14-16 percent CAGR, growing its women’s business at a low double-digit rate, and seeing modest operating margin expansion. Key metrics accomplished in 2021 included generating sales per square foot of $1,443 and a store operating margin of 25.8 percent.

Other news and shorts stops from Lululemon’s investor conference this week:

This fall, the company will open its third experiential U.S. store in Highland Village in Houston, Texas. +++ Home North American market is forecast to grow at a low double-digit CAGR through 2026 to over $8 billion annually. +++ The company grew EPS 27 percent on a three-year CAGR during the pandemic. +++ CEO Calvin McDonald sees small product collections in tennis, golf and hiking driving the brand’s credibility with consumers. New hike product this summer will feature technology that “considers weight distribution.” +++ Lululemon will aim to expand the percentage of customers who shop both stores and omnichannel from a current 25 percent. +++ The brand is launching a two-tier loyalty membership initiative this year, four years after a 2018 pilot program. +++ Co-developing a fabric with Genomatica this year that will be used in a 2023 collection. +++ It has created Lululemon Studio, a partnership with studios, trainers and ambassadors that will launch on Mirror later this year. The eight inaugural studios— Forward Space, Y7 Studio, AARMY, Dogpound, Rumble, Pure Barre, Yoga Six and AKT — will provide 800 hours of content annually and access to in-person events. +++ Footwear launch in March generated more than 10 million media impressions, a jump in brand awareness and a 4x growth in traffic to its website during the first week, according to Nikki Neuburger, chief brand officer. +++ Lululemon Like New, the brand’s trade-in and resale program that commenced at 80 U.S. stores, goes nationwide on April 22. +++ North American square footage will grow by 5 percent through 2026. +++ Lululemon has 1,500 brand ambassadors worldwide currently.