L.L. Bean Chairman Leon Gorman retiring

FREEPORT — L.L. Bean's grandson Leon Gorman is retiring as chairman of the outdoors retailer after more than a half-century as the company's chairman or CEO, but the privately held firm is keeping the position in the family.

L.L. Bean photo

L. L. Bean Chairman Leon Gorman announced Monday he is retiring. He is one of founder L.L. Bean's grandsons. His nephew Shawn Gorman, great-grandson of Bean, will take over the position.

The Maine-based outdoors retailer informed its 5,000 full- and part-time workers Monday that Bean's great-grandson Shawn Gorman is the latest family member to serve as chairman, underscoring a commitment to family ownership in an era in which most large retailers are publicly traded.

Gorman said there's been a careful behind-the-scenes transition led by his 78-year-old uncle, Leon Gorman, who's credited with modernizing the company after L.L. Bean's death in 1967, setting it on a path of growth by transitioning from catalogs to online retailing.

"Leon is a walking legend around here," Gorman told The Associated Press. "He made this business what it is. I'm here to make sure it continues for the next 100 years."

L.L. Bean got its start in 1912 when Leon Leonwood Bean obtained a list of out-of-state hunters from the state of Maine and sent out mailings touting his rubber-soled hunting boots. He opened the first store five years later in Freeport. The company now has more than $1.5 billion in annual sales.

L.L. Bean's family ownership is something of a rarity in a marketplace where consolidations mean more companies are publicly traded.

"What you have are publicly traded companies like Nordstrom and Dillard's that are still run by family members, but there's just not that many large private retailers anymore," said Michael Appel, president of Appel Associates, a consultant focusing on retail and consumer goods in Purchase, N.Y.

In Maine, Leon Gorman served for 33 years as president and CEO, and as chairman of the board for 12 years. He'll retain the title of "chairman emeritus" and a seat on the board. Chris McCormick, the first CEO from outside the family, retains that position, which he's held for 12 years.

Shawn Gorman is a familiar face at L.L. Bean, having worked for more than 20 years at the company in a number of roles before becoming senior vice president for brand communications, where he oversaw market research and advertising teams.

He and two cousins, Jennifer Wilson and Nate Clark, will comprise the family governance committee under the new structure announced Monday.

As for Leon Gorman, he told workers that he's looking forward to spending more time with his family while hunting, fishing and hiking — and less time in a boardroom.

"I wish you all the best and hope to be seeing you on the trail," he wrote in a company-wide memo.

LL Bean
AP file photo

FILE - In this May 1999 file photo, Leon A. Gorman poses for a photo outside one of the L.L. Bean stores in Freeport, Maine. The company informed it's workers Monday, May 20, 2013, that Gorman, grandson of the company's founder, L.L. Bean, is retiring as chairman after more than a half-century as chairman or CEO of the retailer. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File)

AP file photo

L. L. Bean Chairman Leon Gorman, seen in the retail store in Freeport in 1998, announced Monday he is retiring. He is one of founder L.L. Bean's grandsons. His nephew Shawn Gorman, great-grandson of Bean, will take over the position. 

AP file photo

L. L. Bean Chairman Leon Gorman, seen in the retail store in Freeport in 1998, announced Monday he is retiring. He is one of founder L.L. Bean's grandsons. His nephew Shawn Gorman, great-grandson of Bean, will take over the position. 

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Comments

Mike Lachance's picture

Retiring to a new 78 trillion dollar island

Given to him by the Chinese Gov't for helping support their economy.
Sorry Mt Gorman, you lost me when you chose to stock 90% of your store with Wal-Mart inventory at 200% the cost.

May be now the folks running Bean's will be able to stock the selves with stuff made in Maine (or at least the US) besides one boot, tiny balsam pillows and little incense burning log-cabins.

 's picture

Have fun...

...Mr Gorman.

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