L.L. Bean names 'outsider' Smith president and CEO

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FREEPORT — L.L. Bean on Tuesday announced Stephen Smith will be its new president and chief executive officer.

Smith will start at L.L. Bean in early January and will replace current President and CEO Chris McCormick when he retires at the end of February.

“I welcome the opportunity to lead one of the world’s best brands, known for quality products and outstanding customer service,” Smith said. “L.L.Bean is a company I have long admired, both as a customer and as a retailer.”

According to a press release, Smith will be the first “outsider” to lead the company – its first president and CEO with no previous work history with L.L. Bean. He will be the fourth president in L.L. Bean’s 103-year history, following company founder Leon Leonwood Bean, the recently deceased Leon Gorman, and McCormick, who has been president and CEO for 14 years. 

L.L. Bean Chairman Shawn Gorman said Smith will be a good fit for the company.

“Hiring a CEO who embodies the values of Bean was a top priority for the family and the board, and I am confident we have done just that,” he said.

Smith moved to Maine in the late 1990s to work at Resort Sports Network, where he eventually became vice president of sales and marketing. Next he worked as the director of marketing for Hannaford Bros. Supermarkets, and and then left the state to work as an executive at sister brands of the supermarket chain in Florida and Belgium.

Smith has also worked as an executive for international subsidiaries of Wal-Mart in China and the United Kingdom. 

He said he’s “looking forward to returning to Maine, where my family has deep ties and where we can embrace our love of the outdoors.”

In a letter Smith sent to all L.L. Bean employees on Tuesday, he said he admires the company for its customer service, its product development and testing, and the way its “authentic heritage” and brand have been sustained over the years.

“I have always been attracted to L.L. Bean because its values and ethos closely align with my own sense of what corporate responsibility means,” he said. “I see it as an honor and a duty to be a steward of such a great organization.”

Kate Gardner can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or kgardner@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @katevgardner.

Stephen Smith will be the fourth president in the history of Freeport-based L.L. Bean.

I'm a reporter for The Forecaster covering Freeport, Yarmouth, Chebeague Island, and Cape Elizabeth. I'm from a small town in NH no one's ever heard of. When not reporting, I can be found eating pasta and reading books, often at the same time.