L.L. Bean Investing in Major Store Expansion

by Harry Sheff

L.L. Bean could triple its store count over the next five years, according to a report in the Associated Press. The Maine-based outdoor lifestyle brand best known for its catalog business currently operates 26 stores and 10 outlets; the AP quoted an internal memo from CEO Chris McCormick saying L.L. Bean would open four new stores this year and expand to at least 100 stores by 2020.

L.L. Bean's Freeport, Maine flagship
L.L. Bean’s Freeport, Maine flagship

The privately held company couldn’t be reached for comment, but it did release its 2014 revenue: sales were up 3% to $1.6 billion.

“The long-term investments we’ve made in the business, and continue to make, to enhance the customer experience, are paying off,” said McCormick in a statement. “We are expanding our retail presence, upgrading our operating systems, and have made significant investments to grow our Web presence. Additionally, we have a highly engaged and committed workforce without whom our results in 2014 would not have been possible.”

McCormick said that his 5,300 employees are getting a bonus of 5% of annual pay.

The company opened three new stores last November: a 16,000 sq. ft. store in Burlington, Vt.; a 13,000 sq. ft. store in Denver; and a 29,000 sq. ft. store in the Mall of America in suburban Minneapolis.

The Mall of America store—one of the company’s largest outside of its home state of Maine—took up part of the space vacated by Bloomingdale’s in 2012. When the store opened, L.L. Bean SVP Ken Kacere pointed out that it was the company’s first store west of the Mississippi.

But the Mall of America store held that distinction for less than a month. On November 21, L.L. Bean opened the Denver store in a former Grand Luxe Café space, its 22nd store outside of Maine.

The company’s flagship product, the iconic $139 Bean Boot has been back-ordered for much of the winter. According to the Boston Globe, the company sold more than 450,000 pairs last year and has invested $1 million in equipment to ramp up production.

Leon Leonwood Bean founded L.L. Bean in 1912 in Freeport, Maine with the Bean Boot, then called the Maine Hunting Shoe.