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REI to sell corporate office, move more toward regional locations, remote work

Published August 12, 2020

SEATTLE (BRAIN) — REI Co-op will sell its newly completed corporate office in Bellevue, Washington, and intends to transition to regional locations while giving employees more remote working options.

REI made the announcement Wednesday as it enters its fifth month of its entire headquarter's staff working remotely because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Plans were announced for the new headquarters in 2016 on an eight-acre site in the developing Spring District neighborhood. Construction began two years ago with planned occupancy this summer.

"The dramatic events of 2020 have challenged us to re-examine and rethink every aspect of our business and many of the assumptions of the past," said REI President and CEO Eric Artz, in a video call with employees Wednesday. "That includes where and how we work. As a result, our new experience of 'headquarters' will be very different than the one we imagined more than four years ago."

REI was among the first retailers to close all of its retail stores in early March and one of the last to fully reopen, under health and safety guidelines. It undertook a number of cash preservation measures throughout the spring — including tighter inventory management, elective pay cuts by Artz and the board of directors, and layoffs.

This year "we learned that the more distributed way of working we previously thought untenable will instead unlock incredible potential," Artz said. "This will have immediate, positive impacts on our ability to attract and retain a diverse and highly skilled workforce, as we continue to navigate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond."

The Spring District office sale would enable important investments in customer innovations, REI's network of nonprofit partners, and the co-op's carbon footprint goals, Artz said.

"I am confident that the sale of the Spring District campus would have a positive impact on REI's future — and yours," Artz told employees. "This year has shown us our home is not a building. Our home is wherever we find ourselves doing our best work, pursuing our outdoor passions, serving our communities. Serving each other. That is what we will build around as we move forward, and as we accelerate into what's next."

REI Co-op will put its new corporate office up for sale.

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