REI appoints new VP of planning, inventory and solutions

today Apr 29, 2019
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Outdoor apparel and equipment retailer REI Co-op announced on Monday that it has hired Michael Benkel as its new vice president of planning, inventory and solutions, effective immediately.

Michael Benkel, REI's newvice president of planning, inventory and solutions - Photo: LinkedIn/ Michael Benkel

In his new role, Benkel will lead a team of more than 100 merchandising professionals and be responsible for overseeing REI’s planning and inventory management strategy, as well as its merchandising operations.

He joins REI from Pier 1 Imports, where he most recently served as vice president of planning, allocation and global supply chain, having first joined the company in 2008. Prior to this, Benkel spent 11 years at Pottery Barn, where he held a range of leadership positions, including vice president of inventory management for retail stores and senior buyer for furniture.

The executive, who graduated in biological sciences from the University of California, Davis, began his career as a buyer at Macy’s in 1991.

“We are excited to welcome Michael to our team,” said REI SVP of merchandising and co-op brands Susan Viscon, in a release. “His skills and experiences are a great combination for the co-op, and his leadership will be crucial in making sure our customers and members get the quality gear they need to enjoy the outdoors.”

​“I’m thrilled to join REI and weave my enthusiasm for the outdoors with my passion for retail, to support the co-op’s important purpose to get people outside and support sustainability,” added Benkel. 

The co-op, which reported record-breaking annual net sales of $2.78 billion in 2018, recently announced that it will be adopting re-use as a “core business strategy” in 2019, expanding its equipment resale and rental services as part of its ongoing commitment to sustainability and accessibility.