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Jerry Stritzke, the CEO of outdoor clothing-and-equipment retailer REI since 2013, has been forced to resign because he did not disclose “a personal and consensual relationship” with the leader of another company in the outdoor industry.

An investigation into the relationship did not reveal any financial misconduct. The name of the company, and the person with whom Stritzke was having the relationship, have not been disclosed.

In a letter to the co-op’s employees that was posted on the company’s website, Stritzke wrote, “I offered my resignation because in recent weeks the board of directors and I have had a series of tough conversations about my decision to keep private a personal and consensual relationship with the leader of another organization in the outdoor industry. The board oversaw a thorough investigation that was conducted by an external law firm. While there was no financial misconduct, I should have told the board because my actions created a perceived conflict of interest to the co-op.

“Looking back, I recognize I should have been transparent. REI expects high standards from its leaders. The board and I agree that, in this instance, my decisions did not meet them and the last thing I want is to damage REI. I deeply regret that my actions could impact the co-op. You deserve better.”

REI COO Eric Artz will become interim CEO.
KC's View:
There is a lot to be said for accountability.

Stritzke has been a very successful CEO by pretty much every measure - REI seems to be in excellent economic shape, it runs terrific stores, the company puts a strong and effective emphasis on nurturing its narrative, and it has gotten a lot of positive publicity for closing in Black Friday, normally a big day for retail, and encouraging employees and customers alike to quite literally take a hike.

Now, it is Stritzke who has to take the hike. But he leaves a strong record of achievement, not least of which seems to be his willingness to own up to his mistakes and publicly suffer the consequences.