L.L. Bean is lacing up for its biggest expansion to date after reporting its most profitable year for retail since the retailer began operating stores and selling its signature rubber-soled boots.
The Maine-based company is planning to spend $100 million on website technology, business systems, merchandise assortments and new stores. It will be the biggest single-year capital investment in the retailer's 102-year history.
The $100 million investment will help fund four new stores in 2014 and expand its higher-end Signature apparel line. As the company grows, it will also add 100 jobs to its staff of 5,100 full- and part-time workers.
While the harsh winter wreaked havoc throughout the U.S. and laid waste to many a retailer's fourth quarter, L.L. Bean also said that boot production was at an all-time high. It sold 400,000 pairs last year, with orders in December alone totaling more than 130,000 pairs. About 20,000 pairs of Bean boots are now on back-order because of heavy demand. All of the boots are made one pair at a time at L.L. Bean's factories in Lewiston and Brunswick, Maine. The company said it has had to quickly hire and train additional workers to make the boots to keep up with surging sales.
L.L. Bean's 2013 revenue came in at $1.56 billion, up 3 percent from the previous year and was the company's fourth straight year of revenue growth. L.L. Bean also reported strong growth in online sales, which led the company to reduce the number of pages in its catalogs and reduce printing costs. Sporting equipment was a booming department for the brand, particularly in hunting and fishing products.
The company's strong performance was good news for L.L. Bean board members, who authorized a bonus of 8 percent on the annual salary of all full-time workers. It's the biggest bonus since 2005, said company spokeswoman Carolyn Beem, reports The Boston Globe.
-See this Boston Globe article
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