Chris McCormick, the first non-family member to lead L.L. Bean when he assumed the role of president and chief executive officer in 2001, will step down in 2016.

The company announced Monday that McCormick, who succeeded Leon Gorman in the positions, told employees in a memo that he is making the move. McCormick said that the 102-year-old, Freeport-based retailer is positioned for future growth.

He is giving early notice in order to allow for a smooth transition, McCormick said in a news release provided by the company.

During his tenure, McCormick, 58, helped to transform L.L. Bean from a catalog company into a multi-channel retailer that does most of its business online. He also sped up the opening of retail stores, with 19 stores now in operation, and plans to open three more this year, the news release said.

The privately held retailer is coming off its fourth consecutive year of growth.

“In this time together, we weathered the dramatic business impacts following the tragic events associated with 9/11,” McCormick said in the press release. “We also managed our way through, and even prospered (though with some sacrifices) during the deepest recession in more than half a century,” he wrote. “The company has grown, is financially strong and debt free.”

McCormick, who lives in Cumberland, has been with L.L. Bean for 31 years. The chairman is founder L.L. Bean’s great-grandson, Shawn Gorman.

During his leadership, the Freeport flagship campus was revamped with a new Hunt/Fish Store; new Bike, Boat and Ski Store; and stand-alone Home store. The campus was redesigned with increased green space to better accommodate events and activities including expos and concerts. L.L. Bean partnered with Berenson Associates to develop Freeport Village Station to provide additional shopping and parking. According to the release, the Outdoor Discovery Schools have grown to serve 100,000 customers taking part in courses, adventures and trips annually, and will open a new paddling and activity facility at Lower Flying Point.


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