You may need to put down your pumpkin spice latte for this.
Lululemon, the leader in expensive stuff to sweat in, is embroiled in a conflict with the Canadian government over restrictive rules about foreign workers, The Vancouver Sun reports.
In a letter to the Canadian parliament submitted in July, the company said “we require – and will require – top experienced global talent. Despite our investments in training and education, including partnerships with post-secondary institutions, Canada simply does not produce enough skilled, specialized workers to meet our demand.”
The letter prompted rumors about Lululemon abandoning its headquarters in Vancouver, B.C. Huffington Post ran a story Friday morning entitled, “Lululemon: Foreign Worker Rules May Force Us To Leave Canada.”
But, at least for now, the company is looking for a solution that allows it to remain in Canada. The letter asks parliament to grant Lululemon the same exemptions that “have already been granted to the Film industry, Canadian universities, and Microsoft” to rules that make it difficult to recruit foreign workers.
Lululemon is asking for looser restrictions for all of Canada’s relatively small apparel industry.
“As a company firmly rooted in Vancouver for eighteen years, we are proud of our Canadian heritage and deeply committed to remaining here for the long term,” said Lululemon CEO Laurent Potdevin in a statement provided to GeekWire.
But just in case things those exemptions aren’t granted, we came up with a few reasons Lululemon might want to consider a relocation, 2 1/2 hours hours south to Seattle.
1. Talent pool
As evidenced by the dozens of companies that have set up engineering centers here, Seattle has a vast talent pool of skilled workers.
If Lululemon’s chief concern is bringing on the kind of design and development talent that will allow the business to scale, the company could find no better place to look than its neighbor to the south. Plus, unlike the Bay Area, Seattle is a relatively short drive from Vancouver.
2. Retail hub
Seattle is home to some of the biggest retail operations in the country, such as REI and Nordstrom. As a high-end athletic wear company, you could argue Lululemon falls squarely between those two brands.
When it comes to e-commerce, Seattle is king. Amazon, Zulily, Bonanza, and a myriad of other startups in the online shopping space all have headquarters here.
There’s also Starbucks. Though not strictly a retail brand, empirical evidence suggests a Starbucks latte is the accessory of choice for Lulu zealots. Just imagine the synergy possibilities!
3. Fitness culture
Vancouver and Seattle share a similar cultural fiber but the Emerald City operates on a bigger scale. As mentioned, its sportswear industry is booming and that reflects Seattleites’ attitudes toward fitness. The success of companies, like REI and Brooks Running, indicates a city that wants high-quality workout gear — and is willing to pay for it.
Willing and able to pay for it, due to a growing number of high-paid workers drawn to the city’s booming technology industry. That talent pool, by the way, is precisely what Lululemon is looking for.