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“We Must Adjust”: L.L. Bean Announces Workforce Reductions and Call Center Hour Adjustments Due to Rise in Online Shopping

L.L. Bean has announced significant workforce reductions and adjustments to its customer call center hours, citing a shift towards online shopping as the primary impetus behind these changes.

Effective July 15, the renowned outerwear clothing and equipment retailer will streamline its call center operations, condensing service hours from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. to 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., reflecting evolving customer engagement patterns. Alongside this restructuring, the company disclosed plans for employee layoffs, attributing the decision to declining customer interactions over the past four years, with over 90% of calls concentrated within the revised call center hours.

In a statement, L.L. Bean acknowledged the necessity to adapt to changing consumer behaviors, emphasizing that these adjustments are part of a strategic response to long-term market trends rather than a reactionary measure to current business conditions. While the company expressed regret over the impact on its workforce, it pledged to provide affected employees with severance packages, outplacement services, and retirement benefits for eligible individuals.

L.L. Bean spokesperson Jason Sulham indicated that the precise number of employees affected by the layoffs is yet to be finalized, as the company navigates voluntary departures and retirements eligible for severance benefits. Despite the impending workforce reductions, Sulham affirmed L.L. Bean’s commitment to retail expansion, with plans to open four new stores in the coming year, underscoring the brand’s dedication to enhancing the in-person shopping experience for its customers.

While Sulham refrained from commenting on potential store closures for the current year, he reiterated L.L. Bean’s investment in retail expansion initiatives. This announcement comes amid previous layoffs in 2020, where approximately 200 employees were affected, and the closure of a call center in Lewiston, Maine, in 2021. The company’s history of call center closures in Bangor, Waterville, and Oxford, all in Maine, further underscores its ongoing efforts to adapt to changing market dynamics while prioritizing strategic growth opportunities.

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