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Lululemon Inc.’s loss is REI’s gain.
Jerry Stritzke, the former president and chief operating officer of Coach Inc., who was rumored to be a top candidate to succeed departing chief executive officer Christine Day at the Canadian yoga apparel powerhouse, has been named president and ceo of Seattle-based outdoor gear and apparel retailer Recreational Equipment Inc. When he gets to work Oct. 1, he will step into a role vacated by Sally Jewell when she was nominated in February to become U.S. Secretary of the Interior. She was confirmed two months later.
“REI has earned great success over the years and has a bright future,” said Stritzke, 53. “It is a strong brand with a rich heritage and an important mission that connects people to the outdoors. I look forward to working with the talented management team to help the company deliver on its mission, grow profitably and bring outstanding value to the co-op’s members and customers.”
REI’s ceo search committee was led by vice chairwoman Cheryl Scott and had three other board members, including chairman John Hamlin.
“Jerry brings to REI an outstanding record of success in all aspects of specialty retail, particularly brand building, operations and customer insights,” Hamlin said. “He possesses strategic vision; he knows how to foster a high-performing executive team, and he has proven skills in navigating the disruptive forces that have become the norm in today’s business world.”
Stritzke has held a seat on Lululemon’s board for the past 14 months, a position that fueled speculation he would be heading that company. Coach had revealed that Stritzke was resigning effective Sept. 2 to pursue other interests. Stritzke began at Coach in 2008, and the accessories company’s sales increased from $2.6 billion to $5.1 billion during his tenure. Before Coach, he was at Limited Brands Inc. for eight years. There, he was ceo of the company’s apparel importer Mast Industries, and coleader and COO of Victoria’s Secret.
REI, which was founded in 1930 by a group of Pacific Northwest mountaineers looking to outfit their fellow outdoor enthusiasts, is a consumer cooperative and has more than 5.1 million active members. It operates 130 stores in 32 states. In 2012, the company generated $1.93 billion in sales and nearly $803 million in gross profits.