Dear fellow REI members:
This is my first annual message and I want to begin by saying what a privilege it is to serve as REI’s seventh president and CEO. I have been watching REI for a number of years and the opportunity to lead this outstanding outdoor retail brand is a true honor.
Every year, our goal is to pay REI’s members a 10% dividend based on their annual purchases. Thanks to your patronage, we will do just that in late March as we distribute more than $114 million back to our active members. In addition, $43 million in total rebates will be sent to members with REI Visa cards.
In 2013, we focused on steady, profitable growth, and our record dividend distribution is a reflection of solid financial performance. You can read about REI’s annual results in more detail here.
Inspiring, Educating and Outfitting
In 2013, REI celebrated 75 years in business, and we saluted that anniversary by surpassing the $2 billion sales mark for the first time in the co-op’s history. For perspective, it took the co-op 67 years to reach $1 billion in sales and only eight years to double that number. Growing at that rate can be challenging, but REI has navigated the journey well, even during the nation’s deep recession in 2008 and 2009.
One of the key reasons for REI’s enduring success is our expertise in outfitting customers with the gear and apparel that they need. We also help our members develop skills and confidence to achieve their outdoor aspirations. The passion for the outdoors that we share with our members inspires us to extend our reach beyond delivering an amazing retail experience.
REI is the national leader in outdoor education through our REI Outdoor School. REI Outdoor School offers thousands of popular classes across the country, ranging from “How to Ride a Bike” to “Introduction to Rock Climbing.” Outings led by our Outdoor School instructors include snowshoeing, kayaking, backpacking and stand-up paddle-boarding. If you haven’t tried one of our outstanding classes or outings, I encourage you to do so in 2014 and enjoy the discounted pricing given to members.
Our REI Adventures team helps create memory-making adventures for our members. We have been in the adventure travel business for more than 25 years as a global leader in guided, active adventure travel. REI Adventures takes travelers on award-winning exploration trips far away (Machu Picchu, Istanbul, Vietnam, and more) and close to home (Alaska’s Inside Passage, the Grand Canyon, and the Appalachian Trail, to name a few).
Serving Our Communities
For most of you, a local REI retail store is your immediate connection to the co-op, and our always-open online store at REI.com serves customers worldwide. In 2013, we expanded the co-op’s ability to serve members by opening stores in Oxnard, Calif.; Tyson’s Corner, Va.; Jacksonville, Fla.; Overland Park, Kan.; and Silverdale, Wash. In 2014, we will open seven new stores: two locations in Columbus, OH; and stores in Flagstaff, Ariz.; Salem, Ore.; Fairbanks, Ala.; Knoxville, Tenn.; and Southlake, TX.
From our early roots in a beloved, creaky old warehouse in Seattle to the beautifully restored space in the historic Puck building in Manhattan, REI’s retail stores have become iconic places to get inspiration and advice from our wonderful store employees. I have been in the retail industry for many years and I can honestly say that I have never experienced such knowledgeable, welcoming and engaged employees. Nearly 9,000 strong, they do a terrific job helping members get the right gear, learn new activities, and find local places to explore.
Of course, our co-op is about more than growth in sales and stores. It’s about honoring and fulfilling our purpose to “inspire, educate and outfit for a lifetime of outdoor adventure and stewardship.” It includes paying attention to the impact of our business activities on our planet and integrating smart environmental practices into our operations. To learn more about how we support sustainable growth through our business practices and in our communities and workplaces, visit the stewardship pages on REI.com.
We use the profits from running our business to pay member dividends, to reward the performance of employees and to support the outdoor community. Since 1976, our charitable grants program has provided more than $40 million to nonprofit organizations across the country that care for the outdoor places our members cherish. Those 240+ grant recipients collectively mobilize volunteers to steward local outdoor spaces where our members go for fun, rejuvenation, exercise and discovery.
Thank you for giving your co-op the opportunity to help you experience the outdoor places you love. Whether you are adventuring in your local park, playing in the snow, riding a single track or climbing a summit, I hope the first step on your journey starts with REI.
Jerry Stritzke, REI President and CEO
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