November 23, 2017
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LL Bean offers employee buyouts, ends contributions to company pension plan

By Beth Brogan, BDN Staff
Updated:
Beth Brogan | BDN | BDN
Beth Brogan | BDN | BDN
Snow blankets the supersized L.L. Bean Boot outside the Freeport retailer's Main Street store in this January 2015 file photo.

FREEPORT, Maine — L.L. Bean announced on Thursday that it would offer voluntary buyouts to eligible employees in 2018, discontinue contributions to the company’s pension plan and expand its parental leave benefit.

The changes “are designed to ensure L.L. Bean continues to be a thriving outdoor company for the next hundred years and beyond,” company Executive Chairman Shawn Gorman said in a statement.

The Associated Press reported company officials also said they’re taking a broad look at the business, including at its policy of offering free shipping on all items and a lenient return policy that lets customers bring back any product with which they are unsatisfied, for store credit.

The company is the fifth-largest employer in Maine, according to the Maine Department of Labor, and as of 2016 employed between 4,001 and 4,500 people.

While discontinuing contributions to the company’s pension plan, L.L. Bean “will enhance” its contributions to employees’ individual 401(k) plans, according to the statement. Employees will keep all company contributions to the pension earned before the 2018 changeover.

L.L. Bean will offer a “voluntary early retirement program” to eligible employees in early 2018, offering those who take the buyout “enhancements” to their pension benefit and a stipend to offset medical premium costs for up to two years.

The company also will expand its parental leave benefit, add an eldercare support benefit and offer more flexible time off, according to the statement.

“Our redesigned benefits program will continue to be one of the most generous in the retail industry, while providing both the company and our employees with greater flexibility,” L.L. Bean CEO Steve Smith said.

Company spokeswoman Carolyn Beem did not immediately respond to requests for additional information.

 


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