After two months as interim CEO for Recreational Equipment Inc., Eric Artz will take on the role permanently.
Artz’s promotion, announced Monday at the giant consumer-owned cooperative’s annual meeting, makes him the eighth CEO of the 81-year-old enterprise. Artz, who came to REI in 2012 from Urban Outfitters, has served as both REI’s chief operating officer and as chief financial officer.
“After a thorough national search, it was clear to us that the best person for the job was already leading the co-op,” said Steve Hooper, chair of REI’s board, in a statement. REI declined to make Artz available for an interview.
Artz, 51, became interim CEO in February when Jerry Stritzke was forced to step down after failing to disclose a “personal and consensual relationship” with the head of “another organization in the outdoor industry.” Stritzke’s executive background included accessory retailer Coach as well as Limited Brands, parent company of such retailers as Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works.
Artz takes the helm of a retail organization that, despite its recent leadership upheaval, has managed to avoid many of the problems that have plagued retailers more broadly.
Last year, the Kent-based co-op posted record financial performance, including $2.78 billion in sales, up 6%, and $47.1 million in net income, up 54%. It paid member dividends of $204 million, and added more than a million new members, for a total of 18.3 million.