Founder Chip Wilson's last-minute decision to announce prior to Lululemon Athletica Inc.'s annual meeting that he will be voting his 27-per-cent stake against two key directors raises a big question: Does he have a full proxy battle in mind or is he just venting his frustration?
The timing suggests the latter. If Mr. Wilson truly wanted to get rid of the chairman and director he has targeted for his ire, he would have rallied support in advance of the meeting and unveiled something more than just a press release full of criticism.
If other shareholders agreed, he could have proposed an alternative slate or pushed behind the scenes to force the company to settle by adjusting the board. But that doesn't appear to be what's happening here.
Assuming he is seriously contemplating a proxy battle, there are a couple of possibilities.
Either Mr. Wilson tried to quietly raise support among other shareholders for change and couldn't, so now he is going public, or he simply made the decision too late to propose an alternative at the meeting, set for Wednesday, June 11, in Vancouver.
Mr. Wilson's camp seems to be suggesting it's the latter. Someone close to Mr. Wilson told The Globe and Mail that this is the first step in a "multi-step effort" to try to make change at the company.
The voting results from the meeting will signal how much support there is for the idea of change. Then Mr. Wilson can decide whether he wants to push forward, and possibly requisition a new meeting to vote on new directors should it come to that.
For now, however, there is a chance that this is simply Mr. Wilson trying to send a message about his unhappiness, and not much more.
But it's sure going to be uncomfortable in the Lululemon boardroom for a long time, so long as Mr. Wilson and the two directors he singled out are all there.