REI Furloughs Staff — But Reveals ‘Hopeful’ 45-Day Plan to Gradually Reopen Stores

With REI uncertain of when brick-and-mortar operations will be up and running again, the outdoor retailer announced furloughs late last night.

In a letter emailed to consumers, REI president and CEO Eric Artz said an unpaid 90-day furlough of the majority of its retail and field employees will begin on April 15. The executive stated that all health and welfare benefits will continue as normal for eligible furloughed employees.

In addition to the furloughs, Artz said the company will make overall reductions to its headquarters workforce, and all impacted full-time employees will receive severance pay as well as outplacement services and support.

“We have considered every option, and I’m confident the actions we’re taking are the most beneficial for affected employees,” Artz said in the letter.

Artz added that he would give up 100% of his base salary for the next six months, while the REI senior leadership team will take a 20% pay reduction during the same period. Also, members of the board of directors will forfeit their fees for the next six months.

Somewhat of a reopening plan was also revealed to consumers: REI announced expectations to gradually reopen stores, beginning with curbside pickup “hopefully in the next 45 days.”

REI is the latest company hit hard by the pandemic. Yesterday, The North Face announced that it was keeping closed its 115 stores in North America, with a tentative reopening date of May 4. It also said that it was listening to local government recommendations for retail closures in Europe, Asia, Australia and South America. And on April 2, leading industry expo Outdoor Retailer announced the cancellation of its summer show in Denver, which was scheduled for June 23 to 25.

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