L.L. Bean in a press release Friday said it closed out its 2021 fiscal year with net revenue up 14% from 2020 to $1.8 billion. As a privately held company, the retailer didn't disclose most other financial metrics.
The company said its sales rose thanks in part to heightened "consumer interest in the outdoor lifestyle," plus its investment in omnichannel, wholesale, 800 new products across all categories, and international expansion.
The company said it saw record demand for men's and women's apparel and double-digit growth in a range of categories, including active apparel (driven by last year's athleisure launch), camping and hiking, outerwear, winter sports, kids and travel.
Compared to many other retailers, L.L. Bean was positioned well to withstand the complications the pandemic visited upon retail in the last couple of years.
For decades the retailer has conducted much of its business by catalog and, more recently, online, so it wasn't as hurt by the temporary store closures of 2020. And, along with its outdoor gear rivals, it saw demand for its apparel and gear go up as outdoor recreation became a safer way for friends to gather and have fun.
"As we weathered the ongoing impact of the pandemic, we were inspired by the number of people who continued to turn to the outdoors for respite and who trusted L.L.Bean to outfit them for their everyday adventures – proving that our brand has never been stronger," CEO Stephen Smith said in a statement.
The company is sharing its windfall with its 5,500 or so employees, with its board approving a 20% performance bonus for their annual pay in the form of cash plus a retirement plan contribution. Smith praised the company's global workforce for "incredible resilience and agility in the face of an ever-changing retail environment and never-before-seen supply chain challenges."
Smith also attributed the company's success in 2021 to accurate demand forecasting and effective inventory management. But L.L. Bean has also likely benefited from the strong consumer sentiment of the past several months, which has been buoyed in part by government support and rising wages in a recovering economy and has continued to boost retail sales in most segments.
That could start to wane as pandemic relief ends, savings deplete and inflation takes a toll. About half of Americans are "extremely concerned" and almost a third are "very concerned" about rising prices, with a third reporting that their financial situation has worsened compared to a year ago, according to a survey from consumer insights firm Toluna.
In its release, L.L.Bean also said that two independent directors have joined its board: former Sur La Table and Bath & Body Works CEO Diane Neal, and Sephora Americas Chief Marketing Officer Deborah Yeh. Independent director Hugh Farrington retired last year, the company said.