In 2011, MEC celebrated its 40th anniversary. Who would have imagined, 40 years ago, that the Co-op would go from having six members to over 3.6 million? That we would expand from a single Vancouver storefront, to 15 stores in 6 provinces? That we would have an expansive product offering for virtually any outdoor activity? And yet, 40 years later, a membership still costs only $5.
As we look forward to the next 40 years, we ask ourselves how we will remain relevant to our members, particularly since their demographics are changing. More people are living in urban centres, and they have busier lifestyles. They are also interested in a wider array of activities, not just outdoors. Communication technology, and the way people interact with it, is dramatically changing their perceptions and choices.
At MEC, our challenge is to ensure we respond to our members' changing needs, while staying true to our backcountry roots. However, we view this challenge as an opportunity for growth, renewal, and continued member satisfaction. It's why, in 2011, we recognized the need to align MEC's Charter with a broader view of what outdoor recreation now encompasses. Last fall, your Board endorsed a new Charter purpose statement:
Why we're here: We inspire and enable everyone to lead active outdoor lifestyles.
This new Charter statement speaks to the wider range of activities we support, including climbing, snowsports, watersports, road running, fitness, and mountain biking.
Good governance means our leadership, processes, and policies create the conditions for sound decision making. It means we are consistent, responsive, and accountable to our membership. And it means we make every decision with the long-term interests of MEC in mind.
In alignment with good governance, we continued to focus on board renewal in 2011. Some questions we asked ourselves: What is the mix of director skill and experience that will best serve the Co-op? How will it need to change over the next few years in light of our strategic plan and our evolving membership? How can the nomination process be improved to ensure members are presented with a balanced and qualified election ballot? These questions are at the heart of the Board's composition and nominations initiative.
Training for incoming directors, ongoing governance education, board succession planning, and member communications were also improved in 2011, and continue to be works in progress.
2011 also saw two major store investments. The Board approved a $9.2 million budget for a new 21,000sq. ft store in North Vancouver. The store, which will open in June 2012, will be built to a LEED Gold standard. Our aim is for the store to be the outdoor hub of North Vancouver, one of Canada's most active communities. Members in Eastern Ontario will also soon benefit from a $7 million expansion to our Ottawa store. The store will grow by 9,500sq. ft (to 38,000sq. ft) and will have a larger assortment, full-service bike shop, and reconfigured parking to enable us to better serve members. The expansion is expected to be complete by the end of 2012.
We're proud of the successes we achieved in 2011, and excited about our plans for the future. We're confident that members will appreciate the changes in store, and hope they'll inspire and enable everyone to lead active outdoor lifestyles.
- Denise Lawson -