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

LEWISTON — L.L.Bean is eliminating 200 jobs companywide now and is also planning to close its Peck Building call center here in 2021, 33 years after buying the former Main Street department store and moving in to huge community fanfare.

“We are going through the process of reorganizing certain areas of the company, and unfortunately that includes an employee count reduction,” spokeswoman Carolyn Beem said Tuesday. “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. Part of that requires us to become a more nimble, streamlined organization.”

The 200 layoffs are across all levels of the company and will leave the iconic retailer with 3,500 year-round employees in Maine, including 2,000 in Freeport and 5,200 companywide, she said.

Employees will remain on the payroll through February and receive severance packages and outplacement services, she added.

The company made the additional decision to close the Peck Building call center next year to consolidate operations, she said. Its 130 employees have been offered similar positions at L.L.Bean’s Portland call center or the option to work from home when it closes in 2021.

L.L.Bean occupies three of the historic building’s four floors. Auburn Mayor and businessman Jason Levesque, who bought the Peck Building from L.L.Bean in May 2019, said he’s optimistic about finding new tenants.

“Any commercial real estate developer always purchases a building not for the tenants that it currently has but for the potential long-term,” said Levesque. It is a change, but “if you look at it in a positive way, it will be positive. It’s a great opportunity for me, it’s a great opportunity for the building, it’s a great opportunity for the area.”

He said the roughly 50,000 square feet L.L.Bean will leave next year could be taken up by a single, new company or broken up for eight or nine companies.

The law firm Brann & Isaacson remains a tenant with a long-term lease on the fourth floor.

The building, at 184 Main St., has a parking garage with 596 spaces behind it.

“My mother worked there, my mother raised me on the salary she made in that Peck Building,” Levesque said. She retired from L.L.Bean the year before he bought it. “This building, it means so much to a lot of people in a lot of different ways.”

L.L.Bean opened its call center in Lewiston in 1988 after being courted by local developers and city officials, according to a story in the Sun Journal archives celebrating its 10th anniversary.

“Bean’s was supposed to employ 150 people year-round and as many as 600 during the Christmas shopping season,” Business Editor Lisa Giguere wrote. “Instead, there are now 465 regular staff, and the company employs over 1,600 during the Christmas season, according to (a spokeswoman).”

That same spokeswoman was quoted as saying, “even more than the building the workforce has been the biggest asset in Lewiston.”

Beem said Tuesday that work-from-home call center agents is “a model that has proven successful for us and provided greater flexibility for our employees.”

“We have shared this news with our employees well in advance to help ensure they have time to decide which option best suits their needs,” she said.

The company has another significant presence in Lewiston at 12 Lexington St. where workers make the iconic Bean Boots. Beem said the second shift there will be closing but the fewer than 20 people there will be offered similar positions in Brunswick.

Last month, L.L.Bean announced plans for a $110 million corporate renovation and expansion in Freeport.


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