With record profits and a 3 percent increase in revenues, L.L. Bean said Friday that it gave its employees 8 percent bonuses and now plans a $100 million investment to improve and expand its online and retail operations.
For the year that ended Feb. 28, the Freeport-based retailer said its net sales totaled $1.56 billion, up 3 percent over the previous year. It was L.L. Bean’s fourth straight year of revenue growth. The company said it also earned record profits, but it did not disclose the numbers.
“L.L. Bean has performed very well in a marketplace that continued to struggle – with economic uncertainty, political distractions and shaky consumer confidence,” said Chris McCormick, president and chief executive officer.
Still, L.L. Bean’s retail growth was eclipsed by that of its larger rival, Cabela’s Inc., based in Sidney, Neb., a retailer of hunting, fishing and camping equipment whose 2013 revenues rose by 15.6 percent, to $3.6 billion.
Overall, the U.S. retail industry had 3.7 percent sales growth in 2013, according to the National Retail Federation.
L.L. Bean said it has weathered the uncertain economy in recent years due, in part, to its conservative growth plans. Now, as it sees the economy strengthening, L.L. Bean plans a $100 million investment – the largest single-year investment in its 102-year history – in online operations, retail expansion and business systems.
As part of that growth, it said it will add 100 jobs to its staff of 5,100 full- and part-time workers as its strengthens its information technology systems and adds four stores. It also will expand its Signature product line, which takes inspiration from the L.L. Bean archive of designs but with a more modern fit.
In its fiscal 2013, the company had increased online sales and growth in its sporting equipment sector, especially its hunting and fishing products.
It also benefited from strong sales of its signature rubber-soled hunting boots. 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, and they are expected to be ready by April, for “mud season,” said L.L. Bean spokeswoman Carolyn Beem.
The retailer has expanded its line of Bean boots to 55 options, including a new all-white pair for brides. All of the boots are made at L.L. Bean’s factories in Lewiston and Brunswick.
L.L. Bean said it gave employees their biggest bonuses since fiscal 2005, with each one getting 8 percent of his or her annual pay.
The company also contributed an additional $40 million to its employee pension program. Together, those steps represent a $78.5 million investment in its workers, the company said.
Jessica Hall can be contacted at 791-6316 or at: