Ex-Chipotle PR director Chris Arnold joins REI

Arnold helped to guide Chipotle's comeback from a 2015 E. coli outbreak.

KENT, WA: Outdoors retailer REI has hired former Chipotle comms executive Chris Arnold as director of external communications and public affairs.

He started in the role on November 18 and will report to REI’s chief customer officer Ben Steele, while the company recruits for a new senior leader of communications. 

Alex Thompson, REI’s former VP of brand stewardship and impact, left the company this month to join Thomson Reuters as chief communications officer. 

Arnold replaces Rob Discher, who is now leading REI's social media and digital community team, an REI representative told PRWeek. Arnold leads an external communications team of five.

REI is once again urging customers to #OptOutside over the Thanksgiving break as it closes its stores on Black Friday. This year, the company is also encouraging people to save the environment. Co-op REI has 18 million lifetime members, more than 13,000 employees and 157 stores, according to its website.

Arnold served as Chipotle Mexican Grill’s PR director from 2003 to 2018. His tenure included helping to guide the burrito brand back from closing dozens of U.S. locations in response to an E. coli outbreak in late 2015. Since 2018, Arnold has served as a strategic comms consultant and Denver market leader for IBEX Partners

Chipotle has bounced back from the crisis, saying it expects high-single-digit comparable restaurant sales growth for the year, up from earlier expectations. It also planned to open 155 restaurants this year.

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