REI Promotes New Marketing and Merchandising Leaders

Outdoor Retailer Begins Search for a Chief Marketing Officer

Jan 6, 2014

SEATTLE – Outdoor retailer REI announced today the promotion of two company leaders to vice president. Annie Zipfel has been named Vice President of Marketing and Susan Viscon Vice President of Merchandising. Jerry Stritzke, REI’s CEO, also announced that the company would immediately begin a national search for a Chief Marketing Officer. 

“REI is a compelling brand story in the outdoor retail industry, and we want to share this story throughout the country,” Stritzke said. “I look forward to hiring a talented CMO to join our strong management team and help us to engage millions more people in the joys of the outdoors.”

The CMO search is underway with support of an outside consultant. The CMO position will replace Angela Owen, who is leaving the company. Owen joined REI in 1990 and worked in number of leadership roles in Merchandising during her career. She became the Senior Vice President of Marketing in 2012.

With her promotion Zipfel joins REI’s Leadership Team and during the CMO search will lead the Marketing function, reporting to CEO Stritzke. Zipfel joined REI in 2012 as the Divisional Vice President of Customer Marketing, overseeing the co-op’s marketing campaigns, digital engagement, advertising, membership program, and customer insights.

Zipfel came to REI after a seven-year career at Target Corporation where she held leadership roles in Merchandising and Marketing.  Her most recent role at Target was Vice President of Owned Brands and Packaging. Prior to joining Target she worked for General Mills as a marketing manager, and in her nine years with the company was involved in brand management, marketing, promotion, media, forecasting, and multi-year strategic planning. She holds an MBA in Marketing and Management from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. 

Viscon takes over the Merchandising group from Sr. Vice President Lee Fromson, who is also leaving the company. Fromson joined REI in 2006 as Vice President of Private Brands and assumed leadership of the company’s Merchandising division in 2012.

Viscon most recently served as REI’s General Merchandising Manager (GMM) of Actionsports, with responsibility for gear, apparel and accessories for snowsports, bicycling, and watersports. She joined the company in 1997 as an inventory analyst and since that time she has held several positions including financial planner, product manager, merchandising director, and GMM. In her GMM role she has led key company initiatives around regional relevance, expanded online assortments, bike assembly transformation, and fitness growth. Prior to joining REI, Susan started her retail career in Dillard’s department store executive training program and progressed to a buyer. She is a graduate of the respected Leadership Tomorrow program in Seattle, a recipient of a peer-nominated company leadership award and was recognized in 2009 by Sporting Goods Business magazine as one of the “40 under 40” leaders of influence in the industry. 

“Susan and Annie are strong leaders who have the business skills, expertise and strategic vision we need to deliver the brand in fresh and exciting ways,” Stritzke said. “Their deep understanding of how to deliver great product and a compelling brand will help us be successful financially, and in our work to engage more people in outdoor recreation.” 

About the REI Co-op

REI is a specialty outdoor retailer, headquartered near Seattle. The nation’s largest consumer co-op, REI is a growing community of more than 19 million members who expect and love the best quality gear, inspiring expert classes and trips, and outstanding customer service. REI has 167 locations in 39 states and the District of Columbia. If you can’t visit a store, you can shop at REI.com, REI Outlet or the REI shopping app. REI isn’t just about gear. Adventurers can take the trip of a lifetime with REI’s active adventure travel company, a global leader that runs more than 250 itineraries across all continents. In every community where REI has a presence, professionally trained instructors share their expertise by hosting beginner-to advanced-level classes and workshops about a wide range of activities. To build on the infrastructure that makes life outside possible, REI invests millions annually in hundreds of local and national nonprofits that create access to—and steward—the outdoor places that inspire us all.