Group of people hiking near a sunset

An open letter from our CEO

We believe that everyone deserves to experience the powerful benefits that come from being active outdoors. MEC exists to help our members and broader communities appreciate these rewards firsthand. For almost 50 years we’ve grown from a local Vancouver organization to one with a national online and storefront presence. We’re a member-owned co-operative, not focused on making big surpluses, but on making just enough to sustain the valuable work we do as an organization. MEC’s combination of strong values, quality products and price matching has made us Canada’s largest retail co-op and the most trusted source of outdoor gear and advice.

As we continue to move our Co-op into 2020 and beyond our new executive team is committed to communicating relevant information to our members in a timely manner. In order to remain viable in the rapidly evolving retail market and ensure our long-term sustainability, MEC needs to move faster than ever.

There have been a number of changes at MEC and we felt it was important that our members hear the news directly from their Co-op. Changes that impact people are never taken lightly and are done thoughtfully and with compassion.

  • First and foremost, the executive team has set a goal to bring MEC back to a financially healthy state and allow us to reinvest in MEC and the communities we serve.
  • We’ve made a decision to invest in our retail stores and frontline staff. We have converted 950+ casual-non-permanent roles into a combined 950+ Full and Part-Time roles.
    • All MEC Part-Time and Full-Time employees receive our benefits package which includes extended health and dental coverage, tuition assistance benefit, RRSP matching plan and the Maternity and Parental Leave top-ups. Store and Service Centre staff also have access to the MEC staff paid volunteerism program.
  • This shift is in response to the feedback MEC received from our staff regarding MEC’s casual-non-permanent staff designation. The change improves job stability, member experience, employee engagement and product knowledge. Staff that prefer non-permanent status are eligible to apply for seasonal fixed term positions during peak periods. We will be working with our union partner to implement similar changes in our Vancouver and Victoria stores.
  • In order to invest in our retail stores and frontline staff, we are finding efficiencies elsewhere. For example, in 2019 we implemented changes to reduce annual costs through efficiencies in technology spend, supply chain improvements and operations.
  • We have also announced that we are seeking to sublet our head office building with the goal of moving to a space more appropriate for our needs.

The changes we are implementing are measured and progressive and will have both an immediate and lasting positive impact on our operations. While MEC is not profit-driven in the same way as the retailers we compete against, we still must be profitable to ensure we deliver great service to our members, elevated employee experiences and continue to contribute to the communities where we live, work and play. That’s a longer way of saying “we have to do well, to do good” which is fundamental to MEC’s commitment to co-op principles.

At the same time as we take these steps towards change, we know that the foundation of our Co-op remains sound. We continue to enjoy excellent relationships with our vendors and suppliers; sales of our key products and the MEC label are strong, and our membership rates continue to climb.

MEC’s current transformation is another step in our nearly 50-year journey. Thank you for your loyalty and passion for MEC.

– Phil

Phil Arrata, CEO of MEC
Phil Arrata

CEO of Mountain Equipment Co-op. Skier, runner, cyclist and father of two adventurous kids. Strongly believes in MEC’s purpose to inspire and enable people to lead active outdoor lifestyles.