Ryan Gellert, an American who has been running Patagonia EMEA since the end of 2014, has been promoted to serve as chief executive of Patagonia Works, the parent company of Patagonia Inc. In addition, Jenna Johnson has been promoted from vice president of technical outdoor to a new post as head of Patagonia Inc., with oversight of apparel, packs and other gear. It has also promoted Lisa Williams from chief product officer to head of innovation, design and development.
All these internal promotions follow the departure on June 12 of Rose Marcario after six years as Patagonia’s chief financial officer and another six as its CEO. Patagonia’s chief operating officer, Doug Freeman, took the reins temporarily while the company’s board of directors and its founder, Yvon Chouinard, looked for her successor.
Before moving to Amsterdam to serve as Patagonia’s managing director for Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), Gellert spent 15 years at Black Diamond as managing director for Asia, vice president of supply chain management and, most recently, brand president. He is 48 and has been described as a passionate climber and snowboarder.
We were unable to determine who is going to take over his place at the head of the European operation. In any case, his international experience will no doubt will be valuable in expanding the brand’s reach internationally. By our estimates, Patagonia still generated three-quarters of its total sales of $1.2 billion in the U.S. in the financial year ended in April, despite its devotion from the start to the increasingly relevant mission of sustainability.
Patagonia’s European sales more than doubled to nearly €100 million in the first three years under Gellert’s leadership, following the transfer of its European office from the French city of Annecy to Amsterdam and the hiring of new managers.
Speaking to the American business magazine Fast Company, Gellert said that he is planning to make Patagonia’s business more global. He also affirmed the company’s strong activist culture and its mission statement to help “save our home planet.” As we have reported very recently, the Californian outdoor company has stepped once again outside of its core environmentalism and moved more forcibly into politics, promising to close its headquarters and stores on Nov. 3, for Election day in the U.S., and establishing partnerships with a number of non-profit organizations endeavoring to get out the vote.
For Europe, meanwhile, Patagonia took six months to develop a mission statement to strive to exceed reductions to the company’s carbon footprint and work for the “protection of wild places and scaling regenerative organic agricultural practices.” Patagonia is hoping to scale “community-based renewable energy co-ops” on the continent through a sizeable campaign next spring, in line with new environmental guidelines set by the European Union.