REI names new CEO
REI has found its new leader — and it didn’t have to look very far.
The outdoor gear and apparel co-op named Eric Artz as president and CEO, effective immediately. He is the eighth person to serve as CEO in the retailer’s 81-year history and has served as interim CEO since February 2019 following the resignation of Jerry Stritzke over a perceived conflict of interest.
“After a thorough national search, it was clear to us that the best person for the job was already leading the co-op,” REI board chain Steve Hooper said at REI’s annual member meeting on Monday night. “To his core, Eric believes in the purpose and impact of the co-op. Anyone who knows him well will tell you that above all, he cares deeply about the power of the outdoors to bring people together.”
Artz joined REI in 2012 as CFO and was promoted to COO in 2014. Prior to REI, he held leadership roles at Urban Outfitters and spent 17 years at VF Corp.
In remarks at the member meeting, Artz underscored REI’s commitment to putting purpose before profit, getting more people outdoors, operating sustainably, protecting and creating access to outdoor places and uniting people in local communities.
“It is such a great honor to serve this organization, Artz said. “REI is so much bigger than a single person. You need to know that I am here to serve you. What you all do, each day, as employees and members of REI, makes a difference in people’s lives. The fight for life outdoors starts right here at REI.”
Artz and his leadership team take on a healthy business that recently reported 2018 as its strongest year on record. REI recently reported earnings of $2.78 billion in 2018, and has reported year-over-year growth in revenues every year since 2003
Artz emphasized that REI—which counts more than 18 million members—will focus on making an impact in the communities it serves. He said the co-op will redouble its effort to connect new people with the outdoors, highlighting that in 2019 REI will cross the $100 million mark in philanthropic giving.
“Our purpose at REI—our reason for being—is to awaken a lifelong love for the outdoors, for all,” said Artz. “Because if we can’t help people to be connected with nature, how can we expect them to care for the long-term health of the planet?”
REI has 154 stores in 35 states and the District of Columbia.
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