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L.L. Bean sales fall, layoffs to come

By DAVID SHARP

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) ¿ L.L. Bean Inc., the Maine-based clothing and outdoor-goods retailer, anticipates layoffs this year after annual revenue dropped for only the third time since 1960, the company's CEO told employees in a memo Monday.

Revenue for the company's fiscal year that ended late last month was $1.5 billion, down 7.8 percent from the previous year, and sales are expected to be down in 2009, as well, said Chris McCormick, president and CEO. Privately held Bean doesn't release earnings.

L.L. Bean, headquartered in Freeport, already imposed a wage freeze and had warned employees late last year of restructuring and potential layoffs as shoppers cut back on purchases made through L.L. Bean's Web site, catalogs and retail stores.

McCormick said he remains "cautiously optimistic" that voluntary retirement incentives will reduce the scope of layoffs in 2009.

"We expect a further reduction in sales in 2009, and we will be forced to resize and restructure the business to match the projected decline in sales and work volumes. The 2009 budget, the most difficult in my career, strikes the appropriate balance of cost cutting while continuing to invest in our future," McCormick told employees on Monday.

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