Lululemon to open its first standalone Irish store on Grafton Street as company culture is criticised
Starting out with just a concession stand at Brown Thomas four years ago, Lululemon has big plans for expansion and will open its first flagship store on Dublin’s Grafton Street this October.
Canadian athleisure brand Lululemon is to get its own flagship store at 84 Grafton Street in Dublin later this year. Taking over the spot previously occupied by Pamela Scott, the company has signed a 10-year lease for the premises with a view to opening the shop to the public in October 2021.
Already available to purchase in Ireland courtesy of Brown Thomas, Lululemon joined their expansive catalogue of brands back in March 2017. Initially founded as a retailer of yoga pants and other yoga wear, the company has since expanded its range to include other technical athletic apparel suitable for running, training and most other sweaty pursuits.
Introducing the Irish public to the brand for the first time, their BT concession store quickly grew in popularity and an article in The Times states that the retailer sold over €31,000 worth of kit a week during its first year in operation. According to figures from Lululemon Athletica Ireland, the company reported sales of almost €1.5 million between March 2017 and the end of January 2018 with that increasing to almost double at €2.6 million for the year ending January 2020.
Now set to open their first standalone Irish store, the news comes as part of a huge investment in establishing Grafton Street as Dublin’s main shopping district. German real estate investor Deka Immobilien also recently announced plans to further develop the area, purchasing the & Other Stories premises for a cool €22 million just mere weeks ago, as did luxury fashion house Hugo Boss who signed another 10-year lease for their Grafton Street store too.
However, while Lululemon continues to receive rave reviews from customers, staff have a very different story to tell with several reports of “toxic positivity” within the workplace emerging in recent years. Describing the day-to-day environment as disturbingly “cult-like”, more than a dozen current and former employees told Insider that the company puts an intense amount of pressure on workers to be peppy and align themselves with the brand’s ideals.
Speaking about her brief experience of working there, former part-time sales associate Emma admitted that she often “came home crying”. “On the outside looking in, Lululemon seems really kind and really inclusive, as long as who you are includes what they want you to be,” she said.
Echoing much the same sentiments, fellow ex-Lululemon employee Erin said that “they definitely don’t appreciate all types of personalities”. “And it’s harder for minorities to feel like they have a voice during training when they’re constantly being talked over”, Erin continued.
Painting a very different picture of what life behind the scenes is really like, another former store worker named Amy said that workers were essentially expected to be “this idealised, super positive Lululemon robot”.
Responding to the allegations, Lululemon gave a statement to The Post which said that the claims are “not consistent with the culture and values” the company holds today. Confirming that they are very much “committed to creating and maintaining an inclusive and positive work environment”, the statement continued by saying that management “welcome and encourage employee dialogue and feedback.”
“If anyone at Lululemon has a negative experience, we have several ways for employees to share their concerns and feedback, including through anonymous channels. We take feedback like this seriously, reviewing every claim and taking appropriate action,” the statement finished.