Jerry Stritzke is resigning as REI’s President and CEO after 4+ years on March 15.
An investigation was conducted on his personal relationship with another outdoor industry leader, which he and the board of directors agree is a “perceived conflict of interest.”
In a letter to REI employees, Steve Hooper, chair of REI’s board of directors, clarifies the situation and announces Eric Artz, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, will be serving as interim CEO. Jerry’s resignation was formally accepted by the board yesterday, February 11.
According to the letter, the board was overseeing the investigation on the circumstances surrounding the personal and consensual relationship. It was conducted by an external law firm. The investigation also confirmed there was no financial misconduct of any kind.
“The board is otherwise satisfied that our expectations have been met regarding how the two organizations should work together,” Hooper states in the letter.
Hooper also makes it a point to thank Jerry for “his tireless work on behalf of the co-op” and compliments him on being, “an excellent CEO for REI,” and that, “The co-op is stronger today than when Jerry joined.”
Both Jerry and the board agree that the best thing for the co-op is a new leader.
“Jerry has been an excellent CEO for REI and together, all of you have delivered outstanding results for the co-op during remarkably challenging times in retail. The co-op is stronger today than when Jerry Join.”
“I love REI and I believe fiercely that the work that the co-op has done for 80 years has had an unmatched positive impact on the outdoors. I feel incredibly fortunate to have led this organization. REI is full of amazing people and I am grateful for the role the co-op has played in my life, even in the toughest times,” Stritzke told Snews Net. “I regret few things in life but I am sorry that I did not disclose the relationship, and it’s time for the co-op to have a new leader. The last thing I want is to damage REI and I deeply regret that any of this could impact the co-op. You deserve better. Even so, the co-op is in a great place and I have enormous confidence in Eric and the leadership team and the thousands of employees of REI to get REI to next.”