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REI celebrates 80th year with record sales

BY Marianne Wilson

Eighty years after REI was founded by Lloyd and Mary Anderson with 21 of their fellow outdoor adventurers, the nation’s largest consumer co-op is stronger than ever.

The specialty outdoor retailer on Monday reported $2.62 billion in sales in 2017 (up 2.5% from 2016), and 17 million members. REI said it welcomed nearly one million new members and reinvested nearly 70% of profits in 2017, supporting employee retirement, helping fund trail work, returning dividends to its members and supporting nonprofits that get people into the outdoors.

“As a co-op, we are a different kind of company,” said REI CEO Jerry Stritzke. “Our founders were bold enough to think about doing business differently, which is why we hold ourselves accountable to a ‘quadruple bottom line’: measuring not just how we do as a business, but how we drive impact for our employees, our members and society.”

The year 2017 was also a landmark year in REI’s commitment to advancing better ways of doing business. REI sourced 100% renewable power for all its operations in 2017, fought for the preservation of national public lands, launched an effort to promote gender equality in the outdoors and inspired millions to spend Black Friday outside by closing down operations on the day.

“REI has always chosen the uncommon path. As we think about the co-op’s next 80 years, we will do more of the same, inspired by our unchanging belief that a life outdoors is a life well lived,” said Stritzke.

In 2017, REI investED $8.8 million into more than 1,000 outdoor places, returnED $196.3 million to members through dividends and credit card rebates, and give $56.5 million to employees through profit-sharing and retirement.

It also launched new product sustainability standards that apply to each of the more than 1,000 brands sold at the co-op. The standards mark a major step forward in sustainability for the outdoor and retail industries, and make it easier for millions of outdoor enthusiasts to find and choose more sustainable products, contributing to the future health of the outdoors.

REI opened four new stores in 2017, in Dillon, Colorado; Winter Park, Florida; Burbank, California and Rochester, New York, for a total of 151 stores in 36 states.

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