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Leon Gorman, L.L. Bean’s leader for 45 years, steps down as chairman

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Leon Gorman, L.L. Bean’s leader for 45 years, steps down as chairman

FREEPORT — L.L. Bean has announced that Leon Gorman, who has led the iconic Maine retailer in various roles for roughly 45 years, has stepped down as chairman of the company’s board and handed the reins to his nephew.

Shawn Gorman, 47, a great-grandson of the company’s founder, was elected L.L. Bean’s chairman May 17 at the company’s annual shareholder meeting, according to a news release from the company.

L.L. Bean has been family-owned since Leon Leonwood Bean founded it in 1912 in Freeport.

Leon Gorman, 78, L.L. Bean’s grandson, was chairman of the board for 12 years. Before that he served as L.L. Bean’s president and CEO for more than 33 years. ln 2001, Chris McCormick succeeded him as the first non-family president and CEO. McCormick continues to serve as the company’s president and CEO.

Under Leon Gorman’s leadership, the company grew from a $2.5 million catalog company with a single store in Freeport to a multi-channel marketer with more than $1.5 billion in revenue, 5,000 employees and a globally known brand.

Leon Gorman has been named chairman emeritus and will remain a member of the family-controlled board.

Shawn Gorman has worked in multiple aspects of the business for more than 20 years, most recently serving as senior vice president of brand communications.

“I have had the opportunity to learn the business from the ground up under Leon’s and Chris’ leadership over the past 20 years, and am pleased to have the confidence of Leon and the family as I step into the chairman role,” Shawn Gorman said in a statement. “The next generation of family leaders is well prepared to steward the company through the next century with the same commitment to the outdoors, customer service, quality and core values that our customers, and all other stakeholders, have come to expect from L.L. Bean.”

The transition of family leadership has been in the works for two years, according to McCormick.

“As with Leon’s transition from president and CEO 12 years ago, this has been a carefully planned succession process,” McCormick said in a statement. “It represents the family’s reaffirmation of their intentions to continue the business as a family-owned enterprise and their interest in beginning the transition of leadership to the next generation of family owners.”

The change comes on the heels of the company’s 100th anniversary.

Leon Gorman said L.L. Bean has “the family talent” and “a very strong executive management team that has the confidence of the family.”

“Everything is in place to carry the company successfully into its next 100 years,” he said.