Photo: BEN GABBE/GETTY IMAGES FOR TRIBECA X / copyright
The founder of the outdoor clothing brand Patagonia, known for his positions in favor of the environment, wants to do more for the planet and decided, at the age of 83, to donate his company.
Yvon Chouinard could sell the brand, valued at $3 billion according to the New York Times, or have it listed on the Wall Street stock market.
But after agreeing with his wife and two children, he decided to transfer 100% of his shares to a trust responsible for ensuring that his values are respected, and to an association to fight the climate crisis and protect nature, to which the profits will be donated.
“The Earth is now our sole shareholder,” he wrote in a letter posted on the Patagonia site.
“I never wanted to be a businessman. I started out as a craftsman, making climbing gear for my friends and myself, before moving on to clothing,” he recalls.
Founded about 50 years ago, Patagonia quickly committed itself to protecting the environment, carefully choosing its raw materials or donating 1% of its sales each year to environmental NGOs.
But it was not enough, according to its founder.
Entering Wall Street “would have been a disaster”
“One option was to sell Patagonia and donate all the money. But we could not be sure that a new owner would uphold our values and retain all of our employees”, he highlights in his letter.
And taking Patagonia public would have been a “disaster,” he predicts. “Even well-meaning listed companies are put under too much pressure to generate short-term profits at the expense of long-term vitality and responsibility.”
Patagonia will continue to be a company that cares about its financial situation and will function with a board of directors and a CEO.
The Chouinard family will continue to “guide” the work of the trust and the association.