Outdoor retailer Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI) has laid off 357 employees according to a message shared with employees by CEO Eric Artz.
REI announced the reduction in workforce on Thursday, detailing that it impacts 200 people at headquarters near Seattle, six in sales and customer service, 30 in experiences and 121 in its distribution centers.
“Decisions like these—with real impacts to people’s lives and livelihoods—are the most difficult that I must make as your CEO,” Artz said in the message to those effected.
Artz continued on to say the decision was “primarily driven by financial necessity” and that the roles impacted no longer had work or were duplicative.
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Employees whose jobs were eliminated were informed by their leaders in one-on-one conversations. They will receive severance, continuation of health coverage and outplacement support services.
REI will not fund merit increases for people working at headquarters, including leaders, this year. Artz said the company is reducing the size of its senior leadership team by 22% for 2024.
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“As you know, the state of the business—and our industry—has become increasingly challenging and highly promotional,” Artz said. “Outdoor specialty retail has experienced four quarters of decline—and that trend has been worsening. While we were able to outperform this trend for much of the last year, it caught up to us in Q4 and we now expect conditions to remain very challenging throughout 2024.”
Two weeks prior to the layoff announcement, REI announced plans to open 10 new stores this year “to better serve its members and outdoor community,” it said in a press release. The stores will offer apparel, gear and expertise for camping, cycling, running, fitness, hiking, climbing, full-service bike shops and more.
“Each of these communities has an abundance of easily accessible natural places to play in addition to proximity to iconic national parks where REI currently guides active adventures,” Mary-Farrell Tarbox, REI vice president of stores, said in the release. “We look forward to serving as a welcoming resource to everyone through our staff’s expertise and broad product assortment. As we do in every community where we have a presence, we will also establish nonprofit partnerships to support their efforts to help get more people outside.”
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