REI reported record sales and higher profit for 2014 and in turn said it would spend record dollars to support outdoor nonprofits.
The nation’s largest outdoor retailer with 140 stores in 33 states posted $2.22 billion in sales for 2014 — up nearly 10 percent from a year ago, it’s biggest annual increase since 2010. The gains came thanks to a 4.2 percent rise in same-store sales, a 19.4 increase in its travel tour business and a 28 percent increase in its education programs.
REI returned $168 million of its sales to its members via rebates and dividends. Dividends alone accounted for $107.1 million to members — up nearly 9 percent from $98.4 million in 2013. Active membership in the REI co-op increased by about a half million customers (945,000 which were new, minus non-active accounts) to 5.5 million active members, or about a 10 percent rise.
REI’s annual net income (including those above payments, taxes and expenses) more than more than doubled in 2014 to $44.2 million versus $19 million in 2013.
Accompanying the results, REI CEO Jerry Stritzke told members that the retailer will significantly bump up its contributions to nonprofits and new projects “to create access to inspirational outdoor places.”
REI plans to spend $8 million toward the mission in 2015, nearly doubling its investment from 2014. That includes part of a multi-year, $1.5 million grant to the Outdoor Industries Women’s Coalition (announced in January at Outdoor Retailer Winter Market) to help advance women leaders and greater female participation in the industry. Additional foundation grants will focus on helping diverse audiences and young people enjoy the outdoors.
"Joining REI has transformed my view of business,” Stritzke said. “We aim for steady growth so that we can invest in the outdoors. That's a powerful formula that encourages us to think and act long-term. I love being part of the co-op because success for us means giving back to the outdoor community and helping people live life outside."
Looking ahead, REI officials said the retailer would continue to grow its own “REI Co-op” brand with a deeper collection of products that exhibit quality at affordable prices. And it will continue to partner with leading brands to offer exclusive gear to its customers.
REI opened seven new stores in 2014, including Fairbanks, Ala., Flagstaff, Ariz., Knoxville, Tenn., Salem-Keizer, Ore., Southlake, Texas and two stores in Columbus, Ohio. As of early 2015, it has opened two new stores in Alpharetta, Ga. and Princeton, N.J., in addition to relocating its Dallas store.