David Labistour to step down as CEO of MEC

MEC’s board to seek successor as no one is yet identified

MEC CEO David Labistour poses for a photo after chatting with Business in Vancouver at the Retail West 2018 conference on November 6 | Glen Korstrom

MEC CEO David Labistour will leave the outdoor-gear manufacturer and retailer in June, he told Business in Vancouver at the Retail West 2018 conference on November 6.

“It’s been 11 years and after that amount of time I feel like doing something new,” the 63-year-old said, adding that he feels that he has the energy to move to another position and that he does not plan to fully retire.

When Labistour assumed CEO duties, in 2007, the company had 2.7 million members. It now has 5.1 million members.

Labistour helped open 11 of the 23-store company’s locations.

MEC’s board of directors will oversee the process of selecting a new CEO, and will work with Labistour to ensure a seamless transition, the company said in a release.

“David has put sustainability front and centre during his tenure, helping found the Sustainable Apparel Coalition which amplifies the global impact of sustainability measure throughout the industry,” said Ellen Pekeles, chair of MEC’s board of directors.

“MEC’s position as a values-driven organization was demonstrated most recently by David signing the Outdoor CEO Diversity Pledge and his open letter on diversity outdoors, deepening our commitment to representing and supporting the communities we serve.”

This is not the first time in Labistour’s life when the executive made a bold move to venture into the unknown.

Originally from South Africa, Labistour first visited Vancouver to snowboard. He had been making regular trips to California’s Lake Tahoe to ski and visit a friend. In 1997, he decided to explore the rest of the American Pacific Northwest and wound up in Vancouver, where he immediately felt at home, he told BIV in a 2011 profile. 

By 1999, Labistour’s immigration to Vancouver was approved and he arrived jobless, without contacts and unsure of his future.

“Sometimes in life, you’re ready for a change,” he said at the time. “I didn’t leave [to get away from] Capetown. I moved to Vancouver.”

Labistour was one of BIV’s CEOs of the year in 2017.