“People are really upset. They are angry; they feel betrayed; they feel there has been no consultation here from the board – they feel the board has failed in its duty, ”petition organizer Paul Finch told Global News.
“What we are really asking immediately is that we want this to stop. We believe that the MEC Board of Directors has lost the trust of the members. We want them to resign; we want elections. “
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The sale immediately caught the attention of members on social media, with even BC Premier John Horgan stepping in.
“MEC was founded here in British Columbia and has been a big part of the life of British Columbians who love the outdoors,” the Premier wrote on Twitter.
“It’s sad to see Canada’s largest co-op sold to an American company without consulting millions of members.
As of Wednesday, the MEC website was still advertising memberships, stating that “everyone who buys here is members and owners, and our business structure is based on values, not profit.”
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As of Wednesday evening, more than 55,000 people had signed the Change.org petition.
MEC was founded in Vancouver in 1971 and currently has over five million members and 22 stores across Canada.
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In July, the co-op announced it was making the layoffs of 200 frontline workers permanent, as it grappled with the fallout from COVID-19.
But MEC’s financial troubles predate the pandemic.
The company lost $ 11 million in 2018 on sales of nearly half a billion dollars. The cooperative recruited new CEO Phil Arrata in mid-2019 “to meet… the financial challenges”.
MEC said the sale came after a special committee of its board considered options to keep the retailer afloat and determined that selling the business was the only way forward.
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The sale will take place under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act and will still need to obtain court and regulatory approvals. It is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2020.
Finch said he was bombarded with messages from angry members and they were working to determine if they had legal avenues to challenge the sale.
“When even the premier of the province posts a social media post commenting on this and how unfortunate it is, I think it says a lot about how many British Columbians care about CME as a cooperative, ”he said.
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