L.L. Bean leaning toward Canada

Feb 01, 2007 10:30 PM  By

In continuing its international expansion plans, L.L. Bean has its sights set north of the border.

Zane Shatzer, general manager of international new market development for the apparel, outdoor gear, and home goods merchant, says that Bean’s Canadian sales have grown 30% during the past three years, even though the company doesn’t produce a dedicated catalog or Website for the country. “Canada has always been an important market to us,” Shatzer says.

Freeport, ME-based Bean is going to assess how direct marketing and retailing are conducted in Canada and review which products have been most popular in that market. Bean aims to “take a comprehensive look at the market and do due diligence,” Shatzer says.

Bean will also look at its expansion into Japan as a potential blueprint for Canada, says Shatzer. For example, the company’s research on the Japanese market, which it entered in the early 1990s, showed that hiking was a popular hobby there. So Bean made products for hiking a higher priority in that market.

Bean’s plans for Canada include adding a Website with a “.ca” domain name, an in-country version of its print catalogs, and further down the road, a bricks-and-mortar presence, Shatzer says. The company is also looking to expand its retail presence in Latin America and in Asian countries outside of Japan, he says.