Donald Trump And The Plight Of L.L. Bean

by MR Magazine Staff

On the second Monday of January, Stephen Smith, the 46-year-old head of L.L. Bean, arrived in Salt Lake City for a retail trade show. An avid telemark skier, he was tempted to blow off meetings and head to the nearby slopes of Park City, which were buried under 2 feet of fresh powder, but the 6-foot-6 executive was still recovering from a torn Achilles tendon and chose to hunker down at his hotel. There certainly was plenty of work to be done. By all measures, it had been a turbulent 12 months as president and CEO for Smith, a marketing whiz who cut his teeth at Hannaford Supermarkets before a stint with Walmart International in China. There was the unsettling financial report in March 2016 that sales were flat; the company’s recall of 6,700 children’s water bottles due to lead contamination; the strange land feud with a cemetery association, over access to an ancient graveyard near L.L. Bean’s headquarters in Freeport, Maine; not to mention persistent operational problems, including a steady onslaught of Bean Boot look-alikes flooding the market. During that trip to Salt Lake City, after a busy few days scoping out new gear for Bean’s sprawling product line and listening to manufacturers pitch the latest in high-performance microfiber technology, Smith’s mind raced with ideas that he could bring back east to help get New England’s most iconic brand back on track. Read more at Boston Magazine.