September 14, 2020
Mountain Equipment Co-operative (MEC), a Vancouver, British Columbia-based member-owned and directed retail consumer co-operative specializing in outdoor activity equipment and clothing, obtained protection under the CCAA on September 14, listing approximately $229.6 million in liabilities and $389.0 million in assets. MEC — which is a key Canadian retail partner with global outdoor brands including Patagonia, the North Face, Arc'teryx, Birkenstock, and Blundstone — currently operates 22 retail locations across Canada. While there was a considerable increase in online sales during March to September, MEC experienced a reduction in sales of $90 million compared to last year, and all MEC stores were closed as of March. The co-op is currently in the midst of a liquidity crisis, primarily due to difficult retail conditions which were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. As such, it was necessary for MEC to refinance, downsize operations, conduct a review of strategic alternatives, or conduct a potential sale of the MEC business. MEC's board of directors has unanimously approved a deal in which Kingswood Capital Management ("Kingswood"), a Los Angeles-based private investment firm, will acquire MEC's assets. MEC's transition from a co-operative structure to a subsidiary of Kingswood is required to ensure a stable future for the business. Alvarez & Marsal was appointed monitor. Counsel is Norton Rose Fulbright for MEC, Cassels Brock for the monitor, and Fasken for Kingswood.