US outdoor retailer REI plans layoffs as Covid-19 hits trade

The co-op is to shed 400 workers from its stores across the US

REI, the US outdoor leisure retail co-op, is to lay off hundreds of workers across the country as the Covid-19 crisis continues to hit business.

This is more bad news for the retailer, which was force in April to cut 25% of the workforce at its HQ in Kent, Washington state. “Our limited operations mean we are making overall reductions of our headquarters workforce,” said CEO Eric Artz at the time. “All impacted full-time employees will receive severance along with outplacement services and support.”

Now it has been reported that another 400 employees will be let go across 162 of the co-ops stores, which sell sporting goods, camping gear, travel equipment and outdoor wear.

This would account for more than 3% of the company’s 13,000 retail staffers, the online news service reported.

“As the months roll by, it’s clear that the virus is going to be with us in a profound way for the foreseeable future,” Mr Artz wrote in an email to employees. “We’re doing great work serving customer demand right now, but there’s a lot we still don’t know about the long-term impacts to the economy and the full impact to our business.”

Mr Artz said in April that he will not receive a salary until October and that the business’s top executives will take a 20% pay cut.

“Nearly all REI stores are open in some capacity with a focus on health and safety standards for employees and customers, and we’ve been able to bring the majority of those employees back from furlough,” an REI spokesperson said. “This week, we notified approximately 400 retail employees that they will not be brought back when the furlough period ends on July 15.”

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