2016 was a banner year for REI. Earlier this week, the outdoor gear retailer reported record revenues last year as the company raked in $2.56 billion last year, an increase of 5.5 percent over 2015. But, the company also continues to reinvest much of those profits in the outdoor community, donating the majority of the money earned to a wide variety of projects and causes, as well as increasing its commitment to sustainability.
In a report sent to REI co-op members, CEO Jerry Stritzke said that the company donated nearly 70% of the profits it earned last year to the outdoor community. That money went to a wide variety of projects, including investing $77 million in nonprofit organizations dedicated to increasing access to outdoor places. Those funds helped to build and maintain trails, supporting efforts to protect endangered areas, and opening new recreation areas to the public.
Additionally, Stritzke discussed the company’s efforts to become more sustainable in terms of its energy use and the products that it sells to customers. In addition to holding more used gear sales – which kept over 1 million older products out of landfills last year alone – REI also entered into partnerships with 66 different outdoor brands with the intention of creating more eco-friendly gear. The CEO also announced that its new distribution center in Arizona will be the first of its kind to be LEED Platinum and Net Zero Energy certified. Additionally, all of the company’s retail outlets continue to operate on 100% renewable energy sources as well.
As if all of that wasn’t already enough, the company also gave its members nearly $194 million in annual dividends and credit card rebates last year. Those funds can be used to purchase new gear at one of the company’s stores, or members can choose to donate those funds to the REI Foundation instead. Last year, that option raised $9.3 million, which was then contributed to 300 different nonprofits from across the U.S., directly benefitting more than 1000 outdoor spaces.
“There is no doubt that the current retail landscape is challenging, but we had another good year,” said Stritzke. “I am grateful to our employees, our members and our customers for their passion and commitment to the co-op community. Your involvement and commitment to REI allows us to do things like help build the nation’s trail network, protect public lands, and innovate in sustainability. Together we can continue to keep the outdoors healthy and accessible for the next generation.”