L.L. Bean Leaning Toward Canada

Jan 04, 2007 3:52 AM  By

In continuing its international expansion plans, apparel, sporting gear, and home goods cataloger L.L. Bean has its sights set north of the border.

Zane Shatzer, L.L. Bean’s general manager of international new market development, said that a 30% increase in sales in Canada during the past three years has the Freeport, ME-based company looking into potential growth there. “Canada has always been an important market to us. It’s been a successful market, one that is making money,” Shatzer says.

Though the Canada market is similar to the upper third of the U.S. when it comes to climate, L.L. Bean will do an assessment of how business is conducted in Canada, and look at what product selections have been most popular in that market.

Shatzer says L.L. Bean would look at what it has done with its expansion in Japan as a potential blueprint for Canada. For example, the company’s research on the Japanese market, which the merchant entered in the early 1990s, showed that hiking is a popular hobby there. So Bean made products for hiking a higher priority in that market.

With Canada, “we really want to take a comprehensive look at the market, and do due diligence,” Shatzer said. L.L. Bean’s plans include a .ca domain name, as well as an in-country catalog and, further down the road, a bricks and mortar presence, Shatzer says. The company is also looking to expand its retail store presence in Latin America and other Asian countries, he says.