Patagonia’s Yvon Chouinard has transferred the multichannel retail brand that he founded to a ‘for purpose’ status in order to dedicate its profits to fighting climate change.
The move to change the way the business operates comes almost 50 years after Chouinard founded Patagonia as a climbing gear business. It has since grown into a multichannel activewear brand that sells around the world. It became a certified B Corp and a California benefit corporation in its efforts to change the way business is done, before in 2018 changing its company purpose to: ‘we’re in business to save our home planet’. That, says Chouinard, was not enough.
“While we’re doing our best to address the environmental crisis, it’s not enough,” Chouinard writes on Patagonia’s website. “We need to find a way to put more money into fighting the crisis while keeping the company’s values intact. Truth be told, there were no good options available. So we created our own.”
That option was – rather than to go ‘public’ – to go ‘purpose’. “Instead of extracting value from nature and transforming it into wealth for investors, we’ll use the wealth Patagonia creates to protect the source of all wealth,” says Chouinard. Its voting stock now transfers to the Patagonia Purpose Trust, created to protect its values, and its non-voting stock has been given to the non-profit Holdfast Collection, giving it funding to fight the environmental crisis.
“Each year, the money we make after reinvesting in the business will be distributed as a dividend to help fight the crisis,” says Chouinard. “It’s been nearly 50 years since we began our experiment in responsible business, and we are just getting started. If we have any hope of a thriving planet—much less a thriving business—50 years from now, it is going to take all of us doing what we can with the resources we have. This is another way we’ve found to do our part.
“Despite its immensity, the Earth’s resources are not infinite, and it’s clear we’ve exceeded its limits. But it’s also resilient. We can save our planet if we commit to it.