Kent-based REI to lay off 400 retail employees

13,000 employees remain at 162 stores across the nation

REI CEO Eric Artz.

REI CEO Eric Artz.

Kent-based REI will reduce staff at its retail stores across the nation by about 400 employees.

Nearly all 162 stores in 39 states operated by the specialty outdoor retailer reopened as of July 6, according to a company spokesperson. Those stores closed in March because of COVID-19 and 90% of the employees were placed on unpaid furlough but if eligible, received fully funded benefits.

“Nearly all REI stores are open in some capacity with a focus on health and safety standards for employees and customers, and we’ve been able to bring the majority of those employees back from furlough,” a spokesperson said in a July 10 email. “This week we notified approximately 400 retail employees (less than 5% of our retail staff) that they will not be brought back when the furlough period ends on July 15.”

REI employs about 13,000 at its retail stores.

In April, the company laid off about 300 employees at its Kent headquarters because of the economic impact of COVID-19. REI announced those layoffs in April but had not released how many employees were let go. The company employs about 1,000 in Kent.

REI plans to move its headquarters to Bellevue from Kent later this year. The company announced the move in 2016 because it had outgrown its space in Kent and wanted to build a campus in Bellevue that will serve as a gathering place that fosters creativity and connects thousands of increasingly mobile employees.

REI opened its headquarters in Kent in 1988. The company was founded in 1938 in Seattle.




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