L.L. Bean on Sept. 21 reported that its spring sales increased 13% over the same period last year, exceeding plan by 16%. What’s more, the outdoor apparel and home goods cataloger is spreading the wealth, doling out $930,000 in employee bonuses in recognition of the solid spring season. Workers who were brought on before Feb. 29 got $165; employees hired between March 1 and May 30 received $70; and those hired between May 31 and Aug. 31 as well as part-time, on-call employees all got $35. The company employs 4,000 full-timers, and 1,500-2,000 part-time/seasonal workers depending on the season.
What’s behind Bean’s recent success? “We’re doing a lot of cross-channel, cross-functional messaging,” says spokesperson Rich Donaldson, who adds that the company enjoyed sales gains the two previous spring seasons-but not as big. Despite the strong spring, the company is planning for single-digit sales gains for holiday season. While Donaldson won’t reveal the company’s catalog circulation strategy, he says that holiday circulation over the past few years has been “pretty constant.”
There may be a “reshuffling of the deck,” Donaldson says, such as changing the timing of a drop to maximize customer impression and efficiency. “Or we might, for example, shift emphasis on home goods one year, winter sports another,” he adds. “But we’re very conservative in our approach to things from a budgetary point of view.”