REI announces major cuts to staff in Kent, Sumner

Sporting goods retailer REI is the latest victim of the economic slowdown, announcing Wednesday that it would cut 61 full-time jobs, primarily from the company's Kent headquarters and Sumner distribution center.

In addition, a number of part-time, hourly positions are being eliminated on a store-by-store basis in about half of the company’s 105 retail stores and in the distribution center. The job eliminations are part of a companywide effort to scale to 2009’s difficult business climate.

According to a press release, though 2008 sales were up 6.9 percent, REI's operating income for 2008 was down 31 percent from 2007 and net income was down 65 percent.

"REI posted positive results for the year because of strong performance prior to the fourth quarter," president and CEO Sally Jewell said in a press release."November and December were very challenging months and our business plan for 2009 is generally flat to last year. While we are financially strong and free of the debt that has challenged so many businesses, we must plan accordingly to this drop in customer demand. This unfortunately means that we must reduce expenses and staffing to align with projected lower sales and workload demands."

Full-time employees departing from REI will be given transition support – including severance pay, outplacement assistance, and access for two years to REI’s Employee Assistance Program.

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