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Originally published March 17, 2014 at 5:34 PM | Page modified March 17, 2014 at 7:30 PM

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REI sales rise 5.9 percent last year, to record $2 billion

REI celebrated the fact that it surpassed the $2 billion mark for the first time, amid a super-competitive retail environment.

Seattle Times business reporter

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Outdoor-gear retailer REI said Monday its sales rose 5.9 percent to a record $2 billion in 2013.

That sales growth represents a small slowdown from REI’s prior-year gain of 7 percent.

But REI celebrated the fact that it surpassed the $2 billion mark for the first time, amid a super-competitive retail environment.

“For perspective, it took the co-op 67 years to reach $1 billion in sales and only eight years to double that number,” REI’s new president and CEO, Jerry Stritzke, said in a letter to the co-op’s members.

Kent-based REI said its profit of $34.5 million excludes one-time charges of $24.9 million stemming from the cancellation of the launch of a private brand and “certain technology-related impairments.” It did not elaborate.

Sales at stores open at least a year, as well as direct-to-consumer sales, rose 2.9 percent over 2012, with the remaining growth coming from new stores.

REI, which was founded in 1938 as a member-owned co-op, ended the year with 132 stores in 33 states and more than 5 million active members. It plans to open seven new stores in 2014, up from five last year.

Of the seven, two will be in Columbus, Ohio, and one each will be in Salem, Ore.; Fairbanks, Alaska; Flagstaff, Ariz.; Knoxville, Tenn.; and Southlake, Texas.

REI said it has begun distributing patronage refunds to members based on their 2013 eligible purchases, for a total of $114.7 million, up 10 percent from the year before.

REI also said it’s making good on its promise to reduce its environmental footprint, noting that while sales grew nearly 6 percent last year, its energy consumption increased by only a tenth of a percent and its greenhouse-gas emissions fell by 39.5 percent.

REI board Chairman John Hamlin suggested in his own letter to co-op members that the transition to a new CEO had gone well. Stritzke, who previously was president and chief operating officer at New York-based handbag-maker Coach, took the helm at REI in October, replacing Sally Jewell, now secretary of the Interior under President Obama.

“While REI is in strong shape financially, we are looking to Jerry for progress in several areas,” Hamlin wrote, including expanding REI’s reach nationwide and enhancing its stewardship efforts.

Amy Martinez: 206-464-2923 or On Twitter: @amyemartinez

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