British Columbia

MEC to lay off fewer employees than planned, with 1 store to close, new owners say

The Vancouver-based retailer says 85 per cent of its active workforce will remain on the job once the sale to a U.S. private investment firm closes.

Struggling outdoor equipment retailer is being bought by a U.S. private investment firm

MEC's new flagship store on East 2nd Avenue in Vancouver near Olympic Village. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press)

Mountain Equipment Co-op says it will be letting go of fewer employees than previously planned, with just one store set to close following its takeover by a U.S. private investment firm.

The Vancouver-based company says 85 per cent of its active workforce will remain on the job once the deal closes, up from a minimum of 75 per cent that Kingswood Capital Management Ltd. previously indicated.

MEC had 1,516 employees as of Sept. 7, including 1,143 who were active mostly in B.C. and Ontario, according to a monitor's report when it was under creditor protection.

The report also said it had 197 workers on leave and 176 on layoff.

Kingswood plans to keep 21 of its 22 stores open, up from its original plan for a minimum of 17 stores.

After struggling with sluggish sales, inventory issues and increasing online competition, MEC filed for creditor protection on Sept. 14 and announced its sale to a Canadian subsidiary of Los Angeles-based Kingswood.

'It's really not the same place'

Even before layoff notices were handed out this week, some MEC employees had already decided to leave the company, including Serena Jackson, who resigned from her position as supply chain coordinator last week.

"I don't want to work for an American private equity fund, to be blunt. Every place of work changes a lot, but I've been there for five years and it's really not the same place anymore," Jackson told CBC.

She said she knows a few other employees who've made the same decision since the sale was announced. Right now, she's feeling sad for her colleagues who've lost their jobs in the middle of a pandemic.

"Some of these folks have been around for 10, 20, even 30 years," Jackson said. "I know of at least one person who was on maternity leave who was let go yesterday."

With files from CBC Vancouver


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