PORTLAND, Maine — Retailer L.L. Bean plans to pay 5 percent bonuses to its nearly 5,300 employees based on higher revenue last year. The Maine-based retail giant also announced plans to quadruple its number of retail stores, more than doubling its employee count, in five years.
Mac McKeever, an L.L. Bean spokesman, said the plan is part of an “omnichannel” retail strategy, aiming for customers to have various shopping options, whether online, by catalog and phone, or in-store.
“Folks who may only know us from the catalogs and Internet get to see us in 3-D,” McKeever said, adding store locations also could serve as pick-up points for shoppers and that each store would offer excursions through L.L. Bean’s Outdoor Discovery schools.
McKeever said the company has not yet determined or disclosed where it will open new stores, but existing information from online and catalog purchases and other market research will fuel its selections. He said the company will announce more expansions later in 2015.
McKeever said the expansion plans announced by CEO Chris McCormick in a memo Wednesday to have at least 100 retail stores by 2020 have the endorsement of the company’s board of directors and corporate leadership. McCormick announced he plans to retire in 2016. McKeever said the search for a successor is ongoing.
For the company that has 22 retail stores outside Maine, the expansion goals for 2020 would more than double the size of the company’s workforce nationally, with each store having from 80 to 130 full- and part-time employees. The company also has 10 outlet stores. McKeever said the company’s 2020 expansion plans relate only to full-price retail locations.
With the announcement Wednesday, the company said it boosted 2014 revenue to $1.61 billion, up 3 percent, with online sales growing at a faster rate, to 7 percent higher than 2013. McKeever declined to disclose a revenue target for the privately held company in 2020, when it’s set to complete its retail store expansions.
The company also noted rising demand in one key metric: Bean Boots. The company noted in a statement Wednesday that Bean Boot sales were up to 450,000 last year, from about 400,000 pairs one year earlier.
As the company expands and demand for products such as the Bean Boot increases, incremental hiring would occur in Maine, according to McKeever. The Bean Boots are manufactured in Brunswick and Lewiston, and the company also has employees in other divisions that could expand with retail store growth.
At the same time, the company plans to shrink certain divisions, including its call centers that handle catalog orders and distance customer service. McKeever said the decision to close the company’s Bangor call center in 2016 came as more customers shop online, a trend he noted is not unique to L.L. Bean.