L.L. Bean gross sales spiked 14% final 12 months as extra shoppers performed outside


diving letter:

  • LL Bean in a press release On Friday, fiscal 2021 ended with net income up 14% from 2020 to 2021 $1.8 billion. As a privately held company, the retailer has not disclosed most other financial metrics.

  • The company said its sales increased thanks in part elevated “Consumer interest in the outdoor lifestyle” plus investment in omnichannel, wholesale, 800 new products across all categories and international expansion.

  • The company said it had seen record demand for men’s and women’s clothing and double-digit growth in a number of categories, including activewear (driven by last year’s launch of athleisure), camping and hiking, outerwear, winter sports, kids and travel.

Dive insight:

Compared to many other retailers, LL Bean was well-positioned to weather the complications the pandemic has brought to retail in recent years.

For decades, the retailer did much of its business through catalog and more recently online, so it wasn’t as badly affected by the temporary store closures of 2020. And along with its outdoor gear competitors, it saw a demand for its apparel and gear just getting better as outdoor recreation becomes a safer way for friends to meet and have fun.

“As we weathered the ongoing effects of the pandemic, we were inspired by the number of people who continued to turn to nature for recreation and who trusted LLBean to outfit them for their daily adventures – proving that ours… Brand has never been stronger.” CEO Stephen Smith said in a statement.

The company shares its windfall with its roughly 5,500 employees, with its board approving a 20% performance bonus on their annual salary in the form of cash plus a contribution to retirement plans. Smith commended the company’s global workforce for “incredible resilience and agility in the face of an ever-changing retail environment and unprecedented supply chain challenges.”

Smith also attributed the company’s success in 2021 to accurate demand forecasting and effective inventory management. But LL Bean has also likely benefited from strong consumer sentiment over the past few months, buoyed in part by government support and rising wages in a recovering economy, which has further boosted retail sales in most segments.

That could ease as pandemic aid ends, savings are depleted and inflation takes its toll. About half of Americans are “extremely concerned” and nearly a third are “very concerned” about rising prices, with a third reporting that their financial situation has worsened compared to last year, according to a poll by consumer research firm Toluna.

In its press release, LLBean also said that two independent directors have joined its board: Diane Neal, former CEO of Sur La Table and Bath & Body Works, and Deborah Yeh, Sephora Americas chief marketing officer. Independent director Hugh Farrington retired last year, the company said.