When Eric Claus took over as CEO of Mountain Equipment Co. in late 2020, it didn’t take long for the issue of the logo to come up. Seven years earlier, the company had changed its familiar mountain logo to a plainer green square with the MEC acronym.
“Everyone was like ‘can’t you bring back the mountain, bring back the peaks’,” Claus told CTVNews.ca in a phone interview on Monday.
As of Tuesday, the square logo is officially history, as the company brings back the mountain peak logo, part of a current year-long repositioning effort aimed at returning MEC to its roots as a retailer of outdoor activity gear.
“We’re really focused on the things that are the outdoors, for paddling, cycling, climbing, backcountry skiing, hiking,” said Claus.
The former Mountain Equipment Co-op filed for credit protection in September 2020, struggling with mounting debt and growing losses exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Sold to U.S.-based private investment firm Kingswood Capital Management, MEC was reborn as a company, ditching its former co-op structure.
However, MEC had been losing its way long before the pandemic and the eventual sale, says Claus. Some of that involved behind-the-scenes inefficiencies in areas, such as warehousing and logistics, that damaged the retailer’s bottom line. But more visible was the shifting focus at the stores, where the outdoors gear gave way to casual clothing and other products.
“There was a move towards more lifestyle as opposed to technical gear,” said Claus. “Then there was also getting into certain categories that we had no business in, like we have no business in pet food. And yoga is a great thing, but we’re not a yoga store.”
The company is now refocusing its products on outdoor activities, and is bringing back once-popular products such as colourful nylon “Rad Pants” made for climbing.
Claus says the company is also redirecting its efforts on sustainability. It is developing a climate action plan and has set a goal to ensure 50 per cent of MEC label clothing is manufactured in certified fair trade factories by 2025.
The company has already finished the physical rebranding of its flagship Vancouver store and will roll out new signage and labels at its other stores through the rest of the year and into 2022.