Patagonia on Wednesday said CEO and President Rose Marcario is stepping down after 12 years with the company. Her departure will be effective Friday, according to a company press release. The transition will be led by Chief Operating Officer Doug Freeman, though no permanent replacement was named.
A Patagonia spokesperson said Marcario's departure has been in the works since last year. "Circumstances around the pandemic created a natural inflection point for reimagining our business and Rose and the Board felt it made sense for those who would be carrying that work forward to step in now and lead the process of reimagining the company," the spokesperson said.
Marcario was "instrumental in leading the company through the most prosperous time in its 47-year history," according to the release. She was awarded as a Champions of Change by President Obama in 2015 for her support of working families.
In a surprise move, Patagonia's Rose Marcario is leaving the company, after almost six and a half years at the helm of the outdoor retailer. Marcario was named CEO in February of 2014, after holding the role of COO and CFO.
She led the company through many noteworthy decisions, including the retailer's 2016 choice to donate 100% of Black Friday profits to grassroots environmental organizations and the launch of Patagonia Action Works, a digital platform that connects customers and grant organizations with causes to support. The company gave away more grants to grassroots activism under Marcario "than any time in its history," according to the release.
Activism has become a key part of Patagonia's strategy over the years, with the retailer using its first television ad in 2017 to urge viewers to stand up against the Trump administration and defend public lands in the U.S. That was followed up later the same year with the temporary shut-down of sales on its website in favor of a banner on the homepage that stated simply, "The President Stole Your Land." It encouraged customers to take to social media to voice their concerns over a move by the Trump administration.
The retailer took on a new brand message under Marcario: "We're in business to save our home planet," and set goals for a carbon-neutral supply chain in the process. In 2016, the retailer shuttered all of its stores for Election Day to encourage employees and customers alike to vote, and three years later the company closed its doors again in solidarity with climate strikes in the U.S.
"Rose has grown our advocacy efforts in ways I could never have imagined," Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard said in a statement. "With Rose at the helm, we are leading an overdue revolution in agriculture, challenging this administration's evil environmental rollbacks, growing a movement to increase voter participation in our elections and raising the bar on building our product in the most responsible manner possible."
In addition to activism, the company highlighted Marcario's role in founding Patagonia Provisions, an organic food arm of the business, as well as Patagonia's in-house venture fund and Time To Vote, a coalition of companies working to increase voter turnout. Patagonia also opened its first Worn Wear store under Marcario, focused on selling used and upcycled products.