May 21, 2013

L.L. Bean's chairman hangs up his boots

Leon Gorman, 78, steps down after a long tenure of success and is replaced by his nephew Shawn, 47.

By J. Craig Anderson
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

In this September 2010 file photo, Lisa and Leon Gorman, left, along with Michele Johns. orman, who led L.L. Bean for more than four decades and oversaw its transformation into Maine's most recognized brand, stepped down as chairman of the company Monday.

Derek Davis / Staff Photographer

click image to enlarge

Shawn Gorman, the new chairman of L.L. Bean, poses at the flagship store in Freeport on Monday, May 20, 2013.

Shawn Patrick Ouellette / Staff Photographer

Shawn Gorman said he doesn't plan to change the company's business strategy as much as he will reinforce the current strategy. That includes making sure the company stands apart from its competitors by sticking closely to its core product base of quality clothing and gear for outdoor use, he said.

"I want to make sure L.L. Bean is as much about L.L. Bean as possible, if you know what I mean," he said.

Clothing retailers such as L.L. Bean face pressure to ensure workplace safety in response to the garment factory collapse last month in Bangladesh that killed more than 1,100 workers.

L.L. Bean says it uses one factory in Bangladesh, to produce a few of its outerwear items. Company officials said last week that they do not plan to sign the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, a legally binding contract signed by some of the world's largest retailers, including the Swedish chain H&M, Netherlands-based C&A, and British retailers Tesco and Primark.

L.L. Bean officials cited their lack of a significant presence in Bangladesh and said the company has its own, strict standards for its contract manufacturers overseas.

Gorman said workplace safety "certainly is top of mind" and L.L. Bean requires the highest safety standards for its factories abroad.

"We're only working with the most ethical companies out there," he said.

Gorman serves on the United Way of Greater Portland's board of directors and is board chairman of the John T. Gorman Foundation, a charitable organization established by his late uncle, Tom Gorman. The foundation donates millions of dollars each year to Maine-based community programs and projects.

Maine Medical Center President and CEO Richard Petersen, a Gorman Foundation board member, said succeeding Leon Gorman is a formidable task for anyone, but Shawn Gorman is an excellent choice for the job.

"I think he's got superb people skills," Petersen said. "He's compassionate. He's humble. He's an incredibly intelligent man."

Suzanne McCormick, president and CEO of the United Way of Greater Portland, said one of Shawn Gorman's best characteristics is his deep commitment to Maine and the region.

"Without question, he will do a phenomenal job," McCormick said.

J. Craig Anderson can be contacted at 791-6390 or at:

Twitter: @jcraiganderson

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