L.L.Bean is expanding its brick-and-mortar fleet following its “strongest fiscal year in nearly a decade.”
The Freeport, Maine-based company has announced plans to open seven new stores by the end of 2021: Three debuts in the U.S. are slated to begin as soon as next month, with the location in Salem, N.H., opening in mid-May and outposts in Millbury, Mass., and Amherst, N.Y., opening this fall. In Canada, the chain will launch four new units in Victoria and Burnaby, British Columbia; Dartmouth, Nova Scotia; and Calgary, Alberta.
“While 2020 posed many challenges to our business, including the temporary closure of all retail stores, we are committed to increasing our brick-and-mortar presence in order to serve more communities,” president and CEO Stephen Smith said in a statement. “We know that a record number of people reconnected with the outdoors amidst the pandemic, some for the first time, and we see these new habits remaining firmly in place going forward.”
Demand for outdoor apparel and accessories as well as recreational goods spiked as the COVID-19 health crisis drove consumers indoors. For the year, L.L.Bean has predicted double-digit increases compared to 2021 and triple-digit surges compared to 2019 in “multiple categories.” In addition, its flagship store and Hunt & Fish location in its hometown is set to return to its around-the-clock schedule starting on Monday. (The outposts were shuttered for weeks due to government mandates and reopened with limited hours last year in May.)
“Returning to 24-hour service, extending hours and opening new stores all mark milestones for our organization and communities as we look toward a post-pandemic era and see a continued interest in the outdoors,” added executive chairman Shawn Gorman.
The brick-and-mortar expansion is also part of L.L.Bean’s broader omnichannel strategy to invest more heavily in its direct-to-consumer model while diversifying its channels through wholesale partnerships, large-scale collaborations and e-commerce acceleration.
Last summer, the 108-year-old brand notably inked three wholesale deals: department store Nordstrom, office supplies center Staples and Midwestern sporting goods retailer Scheels. A few months later, it added Zappos.com to its list of partners.