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REI eliminating about 275 jobs while restructuring store roles

Published October 13, 2023

SEATTLE (BRAIN) — REI Co-op announced in an email to employees that it is cutting about 275 jobs in a restructuring of store roles — including the elimination of the sales leads — and revamping scheduling.

In the email sent by Vice President of Stores Mary-Farrell Tarbox, about 2% of the co-op's approximately 12,300 employees are affected. Tarbox said REI will reinvest "many of those hours back into other roles in the store, and between new roles we are adding and upcoming holiday hiring, we will have opened approximately 1,300 new jobs across all stores throughout Q4."

One new role, Senior Shop Mechanic, was created, working under the Shop Service Manager, to implement shop strategy and operations.

"This is not something we take lightly — these actions are necessary to set us up for long-term success," Tarbox said in the email. "We cannot build a best-in-class employee experience while we currently have more than 180 different employee experiences. These changes will give us the flexibility needed to support our business, provide enhanced hours predictability for most staff, improve accountability at all levels, ensure we're investing the right number of hours into the right roles."

Tarbox said job descriptions are outdated, and after a review, all job descriptions and titles, and expectations were updated. In addition to the elimination of sales leads, Senior Retail Sales Managers will become Assistant Store Managers, and Retail Sales Managers will become Department Managers.

In addition to the Senior Shop Mechanic, another new role, Senior Specialist, was created to support the store management team in driving sales, enhancing customer service, and maintaining operational efficiency.

Ensuring most employees have consistent hours with committed weekly ranges prompted REI to create three job status categories:

  • Full-time: Employees who can expect to work at least 32 hours per week.
  • Part-time+ (new): Employees who can expect to work 16-24 hours per week.
  • Part-time: Employees who can expect a high degree of flexibility and variability throughout the year to meet both the employee desire for flexibility and support business demands.

"We are not balancing these needs as well as we can today," Tarbox wrote. "Our current scheduling approach is outdated and offers neither the flexibility we need to drive the business nor the support and predictability you've told us you need."

In JanuaryREI Co-op laid off about 8% of its headquarters' workforce, affecting 167 leaders and employees.

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