L.L. Bean said it wrapped up year of record profits and an overall sales gain of 3 percent. It also announced plans to make a $100 million investment to improve and expand its online and retail operations.

For the year that ended Feb. 28, the Freeport, ME-based retailer’s sales totaled $1.56 billion, up 3 percent over the previous year. It was L.L. Bean’s fourth straight year of revenue growth. In 2012, L.L. Bean delivered a modest gain of $1.521 billion, up from the previous year’s total of $1.517 billion. Sales grew 5.5 percent in 2011 and 5.7 percent in 2010

The company said it also earned record profits, although it did not disclose the numbers. The 2013 performance led to the payout to employees of a bonus of 8 percent of his or her annual pay, its biggest annual bonus
fiscal 2005.

In a statement, L.L. Bean president and chief executive Chris McCormick said: “L.L. Bean has performed very well in a marketplace that continued to struggle with economic uncertainty, political distractions and shaky consumer confidence. The company’s solid performance in fiscal 2013 is the result of a lot of hard work and dedication of our employees. The positive performance is also the outcome of strategies and investments put in motion in 2010 while the economy was still in a recession.”

McCormick attributed the successful year to investments in the company’s website and internal processes aimed at providing better product assortment and customer service.

“These investments have paid off in increased online sales, greater productivity and wide appeal for new fits and styles in men’s, women’s and outerwear, as well as an expanded Active line,” he said.

Among categories, growth was seen in sporting equipment, with strong performance in its hunting and fishing lines as people continue to spend more time outdoors. It also benefited from strong sales of its signature rubber-soled hunting boots. It sold 400,000 pairs last year, with orders in December alone totaling more than 130,000 pairs. About 20,000 pairs of Bean boots are now on back-order because of heavy demand amid the prolonged winter.

McCormick noted, “Our Maine-made L.L. Bean Boot production is at an all-time high, demonstrating Bean’s first product is as relevant today as it was 101 years ago.”

The retailer has expanded its line of Bean boots to 55 options, including a new all-white pair for brides. All of the boots are made at L.L. Bean’s factories in Lewiston and Brunswick.

For 2014, the $100 million investment – the largest single-year investment in its 102-year history – will cover the addition of four stores as well as enhancements to online operations and information technology. The four store’s location were not identified. L.L. Bean will also expand its Signature product line, which takes inspiration from the L.L. Bean archive of designs but with a more modern fit. The investments are expected to add 100 jobs to its staff of 5,100 full- and part-time workers.
Regarding the bonus, Board Chairman Shawn Gorman said, “This year-end bonus is in recognition of their hard work and a tribute to the strategies and investments we set in motion in 2010 that positioned the company for growth. We have an amazingly talented team in place and are pleased to continue the family’s commitment to keeping employee and shareholder interests aligned and reward our employees for their hard work, dedication and achievements.”

The company also contributed an additional $40 million to its employee pension program. Combined with the bonus, this represents a $78.5 million investment in L.L.Bean employees, the company stated.

McCormick concluded, ““We look forward to another successful year in 2014. The past few years have focused on prudent management of the business and conservative growth plans. In the new fiscal year we will make the largest single-year capital investment with an additional $100 million in the Web, Retail expansion and business systems to fuel our continued growth. We will be opening four new stores, expanding our Signature product line and growing the brand as we see continued strengthening of the economy.”

L.L. Bean operates 33 stores and outlet locations in the U.S., including its 200,000-square-foot L.L.Bean flagship store campus is located in Freeport, ME. It also has 20 retail stores and outlets in several cities in Japan, and several stores across China.