Lululemon opened the doors to its first UK store last week. Retail Week takes a look at the flagship at Covent Garden, London.

Lululemon Athletica has been a force among North American, and particularly Canadian, yoga and fitness enthusiasts since the end of the last century. Now the Vancouver-based retailer has made the leap across the pond, setting up shop on Covent Garden’s Long Acre.

The brightly lit, single-floor store occupies a large unit and its wholesome, back-to-basics ambience is reinforced from the moment the shopper stands outside its wooden frontage. The promise of the exterior is mirrored within, where stock that looks a little like clothing for Gap gym-bunnies is housed in a wood and raw-concrete setting.

This has the twin benefit of offering a winsome fit-out that allows the (mostly) highly coloured stock to speak for itself, while appealing to the current vogue for pared-back, raw interiors. There is more to this shop than stretchy fabrics and an industrial-style fit-out, however.

Lululemon, as its devotees refer to it, has an extensive ‘community’ programme that seeks to involve shoppers in the arcane world of sitting around in what look like uncomfortable positions. This is evident when the shopper reaches the entrance to the fitting room area, where there is a chart detailing forthcoming events
and encouraging shoppers to join in.

The store has been open for just two weeks and the staff, many of whom have Canadian accents, have been busy, especially at the weekends.

Plans are in place to take what has been done in Covent Garden and roll it out to a number of other locations in London and beyond.

A member of staff claimed that there is “nothing else like it in the UK at the moment”. In truth, there is – but it is well done and marks an interesting UK store debut.

Lululemon chief executive Laurent Potdevin told Retail Week that the store would be a “springboard” for further expansion into Europe. Potdevin also revealed that the sportswear brand, which is best known for its yoga outfits, is eyeing further locations in London.