Mountain Equipment Co-Op (MEC) has announced an impending deal that will see a Los Angeles-based private investment firm acquire "substantially all" of the company's assets, including the majority of its retail stores.
Long story short: Canada's largest consumer co-op will soon be owned by an American company.
Financial details of the transaction have yet to be disclosed, but MEC confirmed Monday that the sale is being made through the federal government's Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA).
The CCAA protects large insolvent companies from creditors and allows them to continue operating while they restructure in an attempt to stay afloat. Thus, MEC isn't closing down, it's simply being sold (to Kingswood Capital Management, LP).
“Being part of a global co-operative movement ... fundamentally affects the way we do business, as we look at more than the business case of what will pay off right now.” @mec #MEC https://t.co/O8kNhjh16q— Mike Crawley (@CBCQueensPark) September 15, 2020
MEC's Board of Directors said in a release issued Monday that the decision was made to "ensure a thriving future" for the Canadian retailer.
"A Special Committee of the Board engaged in an extensive examination of options and alternatives to address the persistent financial challenges faced by MEC's business in recent years," reads the release.
"Exacerbated by the unprecedented disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic, these challenges impacted MEC's ability to secure a refinancing on terms that would meet MEC's future needs."
The transaction remains subject to regulatory approvals, but is expected to close sometime in late 2020.
Sad to see our local outdoors cooperative disappear. It was obvious that @mec lost its vision years ago when it started focusing on fancy athleisure apparel, instead of being a leader on mountain gear and outdoors education.— Jorge Amigo (@AmigoJor) September 14, 2020
Canceling membership. https://t.co/quueoYIjbo
MEC, which was established in 1971 by four University of British Columbia students, currently operates 22 retail stores across the country with a combined membership of more than five million people.
It's an iconic Canadian brand, to say the least, with an incredibly loyal following — one that its current board hopes to protect with the appointment of a designated Canadian affiliate CEO at Kingswood.
Today the @MEC board announced plans to privatize the coop without consulting the 5.4 million members.— Michael Roy (@mikelroy) September 14, 2020
Send a message to the board that this decision to privatize the members' coop is undemocratic - and has to be cancelled. Add your name: https://t.co/lrYKzfTRkE #mecsellout
"The acquisition will strengthen MEC's balance sheet, preserve jobs and guarantee members continued access to authentic advice and high-quality products at competitive prices," notes the release.
All of this is to say, MEC: I want my $5 membership fee back.— Jason Nickerson (@jwnickerson) September 14, 2020
"Upon completion, the MEC retail business will be under private ownership."
by Lauren O'Neil via blogTO