Lululemon’s Day to Lead Derek Jeter-Backed Food Maker

Christine Day, who’s stepping down as Lululemon Athletica Inc.’s chief executive officer, is joining packaged meals maker Luvo Inc. as CEO.

Day, 51, announced her plans to retire from the yogawear maker in June, about three months after Lululemon recalled yoga pants for being too sheer. Before the incident, she presided over an almost three-fold surge in the share price after becoming CEO in 2008. Day, who owns about 15 percent of Luvo, will join the closely held maker of nine-grain pilaf and orange mango chicken April 1.

“I really saw tremendous potential to reinvent the category and a tremendous business model,” she said in a telephone interview. “Personally I love to cook, so this is, from a personal interest perspective, something that I thought was really great.”

Stephen Sidwell, Luvo’s founder and president, first contacted Day in September, asking her to invest in the brand and become a consultant or board member. He reached out because Day spent 20 years at Starbucks Corp., where she led the coffee chain’s Asia operations. The conversation soon shifted to Day becoming the CEO.

“All of her experience at Starbucks, the multi-channel experience to the international growth, then the wellness brand of Lululemon that I respect so highly -- the combination of those -- it’s hard to imagine anyone to lead the organization better than Christine,” Sidwell said.

Luvo, based in Atlanta, markets its meals as chef-inspired fare with no artificial additives or preservatives. The entrees have fewer than 500 calories each and are sold at such U.S. retailers as Target Corp. and Safeway Inc.’s Dominick’s chain. Delta Air Lines Inc. serves Luvo snacks on commuter flights between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Jennifer Garner

Luvo signed up actress Jennifer Garner as a spokeswoman and recently added Derek Jeter as partner and brand-development officer. Luvo plans to open small retail locations, called Luvo Bistro, as well as ink other partnerships, Sidwell said. He said that he may take the company public at some point.

Last month, Lululemon named Laurent Potdevin CEO. His challenges include supply-chain delays and expanding overseas amid rising competition in the U.S. athletic-wear market. The company yesterday lowered its revenue and earnings forecast for the quarter ending Feb. 2. The shares fell 0.9 percent to $49.26 at the close in New York and slumped 23 percent last year compared with a 30 percent gain for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.