When former REI CEO Sally Jewell was appointed U.S. Secretary of the Interior earlier this spring, the sporting equipment company had a big job on its hands: replacing her. Four months after her departure in April, REI announced a new CEO: Jerry Stritzke, former president and COO of Coach Inc. Stritzke started at his new post on October 1st, 2013.
Stritzke had been with Coach since 2008, helping to nearly double the brand’s sales despite the country’s massive recession. Now he joins one of Washington State’s top companies; REI brought in almost $2 billion in sales in 2012.
“Jerry brings to REI an outstanding record of success in all aspects of specialty retail, particularly brand building, operations, and customer insights,” said REI board chairman John Hamlin in a press release. “He possesses strategic vision, he knows how to foster a high-performing executive team, and he has proven skills in navigating the disruptive forces that have become the norm in today’s business world.”
Before working with Coach, Jerry Stritzke spent eight years with Limited Brands, Inc., which is parent company to companies like Bath & Body Works, Victoria’s Secret, and Mast Industries. He rose to become CEO of Mast Industries before being promoted to COO and Co-Leader at Victoria’s Secret. He is also on the board for Lululemon Athletica.
Despite his diverse portfolio, Stritzke’s career didn’t begin in the retail industry. He is a licensed attorney, having graduated with a Juris Doctor from the University of Oklahoma. He worked for a time in private practice before deciding to join a consulting firm specializing in retail.
The appointment of Jerry Stritzke seems natural in every way; he’s worked with an array of distinguished and impressive specialty brands and has seen much success there. He’s also an avid outdoorsman who enjoys mountain climbing, hiking, rafting, fly-fishing, and more. He has big shoes to fill as he steps up as the company’s 7th president—but we have a feeling he’ll do just fine.