L.L.Bean will be moving out of the Peck Building on Main Street and shutting down its Lewiston call center in 2021. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Freeport-based outdoor retailer L.L. Bean announced Tuesday that is reducing its workforce by 200 full and part-time positions as the company undergoes a reorganization that executives hope will position it for future success.

The company also disclosed that it will close its call center in downtown Lewiston next year, but will offer affected workers similar jobs at its call center at the Northport plaza in Portland. A company spokeswoman said the layoffs and call center closure are unrelated.

Carolyn Beem, the spokeswoman for L.L. Bean, said the layoffs will occur across the company at all levels and will impact about 130 full- and part-time employees in Maine. In addition to its flagship retail store on Main Street, corporate headquarters and distribution center, which are all in Freeport, L.L. Bean also operates retail stores in Bangor and Ellsworth, as well as manufacturing facilities in Brunswick and Lewiston where more than 400 employees produce the Maine Hunting Shoe, the L.L. Bean Boot, and its Boat and Tote bag.

“We are going through the process of reorganizing certain areas of the company, and unfortunately that includes an employee count reduction. As an organization in an ever-changing retail industry, we must continually adapt and invest so we can meet the needs of our evolving customers and position L.L. Bean for long-term growth,” Beem said in a statement.

“Part of that requires us to become a more nimble, streamlined organization, which is why we made the difficult decision to eliminate approximately 200 jobs across all levels of the company,” she added.

Beem said the layoffs will be companywide, meaning that in addition to the Maine workers, employees at L.L. Bean properties across the country and in its stores in Japan could see reductions. Beem added that most of the layoffs will affect the company’s U.S. workforce.

Beem said L.L. Bean will continue to employ 3,500 year-round employees in Maine – including 2,000 workers in Freeport – and 5,200 companywide.

All of the affected employees will remain on the company payroll through the end of February and will be given a severance package as well as outplacement services, Beem said.

Jessica Picard, spokeswoman for the Maine Department of Labor, said in an email that the state has been made aware of the layoffs at L.L. Bean. The state will be reaching out to the company to offer Rapid Response Services for any employee facing a job loss.

Picard said that under the Rapid Response Services program workers  can get information about health insurance options, assistance with looking for a new job and information about unemployment benefits. Rapid Response also offers opportunities for training.

The company said Tuesday that it is planning to close its Peck Building call center on Main Street in Lewiston, which it purchased 33 years ago. The closure will allow the company to consolidate its operations, Beem told the Lewiston Sun Journal.

Peck Building employees will be offered similar positions at L.L. Bean’s call center in Portland. About 130 people work in the Peck Building call center. The second shift will be eliminated in June with the first shift continuing through the summer of 2021, Beem said. Peck Building workers also will be given the option of working from home once the Peck Building operation closes.

Auburn Mayor Jason Levesque purchased the Peck Building in May 2019.

L.L. Bean has been forced to implement workforce reductions in the past. Citing flat sales in 2017, the company announced it would eliminate 100 positions, and would not give bonuses to workers. Those employees were able to apply for other available positions. At the time, company President and CEO Steve Smith admitted 2017 was a difficult year for the retailer, with problems including a slight drop in sales. The company withheld bonuses for the first time since 2008.

L.L. Bean experienced a slight rebound in the final quarter of 2018 and rewarded employees by offering them modest holiday bonuses, ranging from $35 to $165. The gifts capped a tumultuous year for the company, which terminated its open-ended return policy in early 2018, citing abuse of the no-questions-asked policy for customers trying to return items.

L.L. Bean was founded in 1912 Leon Leonwood (L.L.) Bean. His grandson, Leon Gorman, transformed the business into a globally recognized brand. It remains a privately held, family-owned company. On its website, the company says it does not release detailed financial and operational information. Its annual net sales in 2018 were $1.6 billion, the company said.

Bean opened its Freeport flagship store in 1917. It has since been renovated and expanded, and attracts more than 3 million visitors a year. The company says it operates 39 retail stores outside of Maine as far south as Virginia and as far west as Utah. There are 10 outlet stores in the northeast.

The retailer opened its first international retail store in Tokyo in 1992 and now operates 28 stores and outlets in Japan, where it maintains a website, contact center and distribution center.

Sun Journal Staff Writer Kathryn Skelton contributed to this report.


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