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03/22/2021

L.L. Bean had record year amid outdoors boom

Marianne Wilson
Editor-in-Chief
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llbean store

L.L. Bean reported its largest net revenue increase in the past nine years — and busiest holiday season in 20 years — as consumers sought out gear for outdoor adventures during the pandemic.

The Freeport, Maine-based retailer’s revenue in 2020 totaled $1.59 billion – a 5% increase over 2019 and its best showing since 2011. The year also brought several new initiatives for L.L. Bean as it entered into wholesale partnerships for the first time in its 100 years-plus history with partners that included Nordstrom, Zappos, Staples and Scheels. The brand also launched the first collaboration of its kind with menswear designer Todd Snyder and expanded its international footprint with four stores in Canada.

“This past year redefined our lives in many ways, and our company’s purpose took on new importance as a record number of people turned to the outdoors for respite,” said company president and CEO Stephen Smith. 

In addition to the boom in outdoor activities, L.L. Bean also benefitted from the work-from-trend. The company reported 42% sales growth in slippers (one pair sold every minute for the past six months), 54% growth in sleepwear, and 97% growth in outdoor furniture

L.L. Bean, which is family-owned, recently approved a cash bonus of 10% of annual pay to its 4,600 employees, as well as an additional 401(k) contribution of 8%. In total, the company invested $72 million in employee benefits in 2020.

“I was continually inspired by the resilience, agility and care exuded by our employees throughout a year of change and challenges,” said Smith. “Despite retail locations being closed for ten weeks, thanks to our dedicated teams and our omnichannel advancements, we were still able to provide customers with the apparel, goods and gear they needed – whether for inside comforts or outside connections.”

Throughout 2020, the company said it remained committed to its long-held stakeholder philosophy, making notable strides to continue supporting employees, customers, communities and advancing its sustainability efforts. L.L. Bean manufactured some 350,000 face masks for MaineHealth, assembled 500,000 face shields, donated face masks to election day volunteers and packed more than a million pounds of food for a Maine food bank. It also donated $6 million to 100-plus outdoor and community-enriching organizations to advance outdoor access for all. 

“The belief in the renewing power of time spent outside was the reason my great-grandfather created this company,” said Shawn Gorman, executive chairman. “This belief, along with our commitment of putting people first, have both served as our guideposts over the past 108 years - and this year was no different.”

L.L. Bean operates 54 stores in 19 states across the United States, along with four stores in Canada and 25 in Japan.