L.L. Bean continues to benefit from the pandemic-fueled consumer scurry to the outdoors.
On Friday, the Maine-based retailer reported sales in 2021 hit $1.8 billion, a 14 percent increase over 2020, making it one of the company’s most successful years ever. Demand for men’s and women’s apparel also hit an all-time high last year, the company said.
Beyond heightened consumer interest, L.L. Bean attributed the strong showing to ongoing investment in its omnichannel presence, wholesale partnerships, new product offerings and international expansion.
Among the top performers were active apparel — fueled by the launch of the company’s athleisure collection — which was up 36 percent; active and hiking footwear, up 26 percent; outerwear, with a 28 percent increase; travel products, up 50 percent, and winter sports, up 25 percent.
Specifically, the company sold 358,000 L.L. Bean Book Packs for kids returning to school, 1.3 million flannel shirts and sleepwear, an average of 3,600 a day, and 1.5 million Wicked Good Slippers.
L.L. Bean operates 56 stores in 19 states across the U.S., along with 24 stores in Japan and eight stores in Canada in partnership with Jaytex Group. It opened three stores in the U.S. and four in Canada last year.
The company also has a wholesale arm that counts 1,200 stores and online retailers including Nordstrom, Zappos, Scheels and Staples among its customers.
Stephen Smith, president and chief executive officer of L.L. Bean, said: “As we weathered the ongoing impact of the pandemic, we were inspired by the number of people who continued to turn to the outdoors for respite and who trusted L.L. Bean to outfit them for their everyday adventures — proving that our brand has never been stronger. Our global teams have shown incredible resilience and agility in the face of an ever-changing retail environment and never-before-seen supply chain challenges. By accurately forecasting consumer demand and securing inventory early, we were able to meet our customers’ needs, which in turn yielded one of our strongest years of growth in company history.”
Specifically, Bean said the company helped 170,000 people enjoy time outdoors through community initiatives, flagship store events and outdoor discovery programs last year. It also committed $6.2 million to partnerships centered around access to the outdoors including the National Park Foundation, Trust for Public Land, Outdoor Industry Association, Hike It Baby and Friends of Acadia. It launched an outdoor programming partnership with the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, which will reach 4.6 million youth across 4,700 clubs in 2022. And it pledged $1.3 million to United Way to support local communities.
The company also doubled down on its sustainable practices, with 80 percent of new outerwear and 50 percent of its new active apparel collection now using sustainable materials. L.L. Bean also continues to work to reduce its carbon footprint, generate electricity from Maine-based renewable sources, recycle waste locally, transition away from PFAS in its water-resistant products, and reduce plastic packaging by transitioning to paper.
At the same time as it reported its financial results, Bean added two members to its board: Diane Neal, former CEO of Sur La Table and Bath & Body Works, and Deborah Yeh, chief marketing officer of Sephora Americas.
As a way of thanking its 5,500 employees for its record year, the company’s board has approved a performance bonus of 20 percent, which is comprised of 12 percent cash and an 8 percent contribution to the 401k plan.