Customers make their way out of L.L.Bean in Freeport in 2023. Shawn Patrick Ouellette / Portland Press Herald

L.L.Bean is laying off customer service representatives and reducing its call center hours in response to more shoppers placing orders online.

The Freeport-based outdoor retailer announced the “reduction in staff” internally Thursday. Company officials would not say how many workers were being let go or how many were based in Maine.

“It will be some time before we feel confident in providing numbers,” said Jason Sulham, the company’s manager of public affairs.

The company is looking for people to voluntarily leave with severance packages or retire before making cuts, according to Sulham.

The customer service department currently employs 500 people, and Sulham said “the large majority will not be impacted.”

L.L.Bean is also reducing its customer service hours from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. to 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. starting July 15.


The decision to reduce staff comes as a “strategic response to long-term consumer trends” that have changed how customers seek service, the company said.

“As more of our customers choose self-service and shop through our digital and retail channels, customer contacts have declined over the last four years,” Sulham said. “Simply put, L.L.Bean customers shop differently today than in the past and we must adapt.”

Nearly 90% of orders are now placed on L.L.Bean’s website and over 90% of customer calls come in between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.

“Impacting people’s jobs and schedules is never a decision L.L.Bean makes lightly, and we will be offering impacted employees severance, outplacement services and, for those who are eligible, company retiree benefits,” Sulham said.

The Maine Department of Labor is “aware of layoffs and is in contact with L.L.Bean,” spokesperson Jessica Picard said. She would not confirm how many employees are affected and said information on eliminated positions is confidential under Maine’s unemployment compensation law.

Federal law requires employers to file public notices at least 60 days before closing a facility of over 50 workers or laying off 50 to 499 workers that constitute 33% of the total workforce at a single site.


L.L.Bean has its flagship retail store, corporate headquarters and distribution center in Freeport, retail stores in Bangor and Ellsworth and manufacturing facilities in Brunswick and Lewiston.

The company has conducted workforce reductions before. In 2020, the company eliminated 200 full and part-time positions amid a reorganization. In 2021, it closed its Lewiston call center. In 2017, 100 positions were eliminated and the company did not give bonuses to employees due to flat sales.

But this time, Sulham said, the layoffs and changes are an attempt to adapt to customer patterns.

“Importantly, these changes are not a reaction to current business conditions or part of a larger workforce reduction, but rather a strategic response to long-term customer trends,” he said.

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