MEC Update – April 2020

As MEC gears up to celebrate its 49th anniversary in August, we reflect on the last 9 months.  

MEC has been in a tough financial position. We launched Crunch Time in the fall as a rallying cry to educate our staff on the difficult situation MEC was in, and the need for us to work together to support our Co-op. 

MEC opened a number of brick-and-mortar stores to serve members over the past few years. These stores were financed through real-estate sales putting strain on the balance sheet. In addition, comp sales flattened resulting in cash flow challenges.   

The organization brought in a new management team in mid-2019, including CEO Phil Arrata, to address these financial challenges. We implemented Crunch Time, a comprehensive plan to get us back on track, and reestablish MEC’s financial health. Our Crunch Time plan focuses on:    

  • Member experience improvements to ensure our members speak highly of MEC based on their in-store, online, or community interactions.  
  • Teamwork. Staff are communicating across the organization from Halifax to Victoria, working together with a common goal and eliminating silos. 
  • A curated Merchandising assortment of sought-after outdoor brands including the MEC in house brand  
  • Continuous improvement, seeking ways to unlock operational efficiencies that support staff, our members and the financial health of the Co-op.  
  • Social impact. We continue to enable Canadians to live active outdoor lifestyles.  

We deployed several initiatives in the past few months to support our turnaround. We also had a plan as to the next set of initiatives which we were going to pursue. Those plans have now been put on the backburner. It goes without saying that COVID-19 has increased the pressure we’re under. 

The economic impact of COVID-19 on MEC is severe. Our stores are closed and because of this, sales have experienced a drastic decline. There is still no timeline as to when we will be able to reopen stores. We have been given guidance from the government that when we do re-open, social distancing rules will apply. This impacts the decisions and choices we can make.  

The net result for MEC is that it has created significant cash pressure. We made the decision to layoff our store staff after supporting them with pay and benefits during our initial two week shut-down period. This decision was made to protect MEC and jobs over the long-term.  

MEC also laid off staff at our Head Office, Distribution Centre and Service Centre, as we move into a “keep the lights on” model, with essential services only.  

MEC is working with our partners, advisors and teams to examine every possible avenue of support for our Co-op.  

Rest assured we are doing our best, based on the latest information, to ensure MEC remains a vibrant and viable organization.