L.L.Bean plans to open retail stores in three new states in an unprecedented multi-year growth plan for the retailer. The first of several stores planned for Massachusetts will open September 2006 in Burlington, Massachusetts. A new store in Center Valley, near Allentown, Pennsylvania will open October 2006, with a location in South Windsor, Connecticut to follow in summer 2007.

According to the company, additional locations in greater Boston are being pursued for openings in 2007 and 2008. These new stores will more than double L.L. Bean’s current store count.

The company has also acquired property adjoining the L.L. Bean Flagship and Hunting & Fishing stores in Freeport, ME, giving it additional retail space on Main Street. With this purchase, L.L. Bean will be able to expand upon the outdoor theme of its existing retail campus by incorporating green space and natural landscaping including rocks, streams, waterfalls, and outdoor activity areas.

L.L. Bean is also reaffirming its desire to develop a separate 4-acre parcel it owns across the street from the newly acquired property. Development of the parcel would provide hundreds of additional parking spots and bring up to 100,000 sq. ft. of new retail space to the downtown.

Finally, L.L. Bean will expand their order fulfillment operations in Freeport by 50%. Management stated that the 330,000 sq. ft. addition to the company's Desert Road facility is necessary to support the company's plans for new regional retail stores and its growing consumer direct mail-order business. The project is scheduled for completion in fall 2007.

>>> This convergence of REI, L.L. Bean, and EMS in New England is starting to look similar to the Gander, Bass Pro, Cabela’s battle in the Midwest…