After a difficult year that included uncooperative weather and the death of an iconic company leader, executives at L.L. Bean are looking forward to the future.

On Friday, the Freeport-based outdoor lifestyle retailer reported flat product sales for its most recent fiscal year, which ended Feb. 28. The company reported sales of $1.6 billion, nearly identical to the previous year. Though sales fell short of the company’s goals, L.L. Bean’s board of directors approved a performance bonus of 3 percent of annual pay for 5,900 eligible employees.

Company President and CEO Stephen Smith, a former Wal-Mart executive who took over L.L. Bean’s top leadership role in January, said 2015’s frigid spring and balmy winter caused a situation in which the clothes people were wearing outside often didn’t match the store’s inventory inside.

However, Smith said prudent forecasting and product management helped mitigate the weather’s negative effect on revenue, along with robust sales of a few key items including the ever-popular Bean boot, a line of lightweight down jackets and a sweater/fleece hybrid. The company produced an ample supply of those products and marketed them heavily, he said.

“It wasn’t a surprise – it was well-planned,” Smith said.

The unusually warm winter prompted many retailers of cold-weather apparel to offer deep discounts in order to move inventory, he said, but L.L. Bean stayed the course and saw increased sales when the weather finally did turn cold.

L.L. Bean went through many changes in 2015, including one tragic loss.

In September, the company’s chairman emeritus and former longtime leader Leon Gorman died at age 80. Gorman, a grandson of company founder L.L. Bean, transformed the catalog company with a single retail store and 100 employees into a multichannel retailer with more than 5,000 employees and sales topping $1.5 billion.

Then in November, the company began its transition to a new top executive following the announcement that Chris McCormick, who had served in that role since 2001, was planning to retire.

Another change involved hiring additional boot-makers and buying another injection-molding machine to make the Bean boots’ rubber bottoms. The two plants where the boots are made – in Lewiston and in Brunswick – began running around the clock to build up inventory in advance of fall and holiday orders.

The changes helped L.L. Bean reduce a back-order list of nearly 100,000 pairs of boots down to about 30,000 as of Friday, Smith said. The plan is to completely eliminate the backlog of orders by midsummer and then start building up a surplus of inventory for next fall.

“We’re on top of it now,” he said.

This year, an ongoing, $100 million investment to improve and expand the company’s online and retail operations will kick into high gear, Smith said. The focus in 2016 will be on upgrading all of the company’s information technology systems and other infrastructure to make ordering products faster and easier, he said.

“There are huge teams making sure the transition goes smoothly,” he said.

Although he is still new to the company and has yet to formulate his entire long-term strategy, Smith said he has had time to make certain observations including the strength of the company’s products and the excellent quality of its employees.

Smith said it’s time to leverage those assets to bring the company even bigger success.

“One of my first impressions is we need to get back into growth mode,” he said.