Stephen Smith has been chosen as L.L. Bean’s new president and CEO.
The Freeport, Maine-based retail company has searched for a year for a replacement for Chris McCormick who will soon retire after joining the team in 1983.
Smith, who has a rich history with the retail business, will take over in January 2016.
He began working for Resort Sports Network in the 1990s and later advanced to become Hannaford’s director of marketing. He has also held positions around the world, from Asda in the U.K. and Yihaodian in Shanghai to Sam’s Club in China, where he currently resides.
Smith will be the first president for L.L. Bean who does not carry the family name and has not previously worked at the company. But Shawn Gorman, chairman of the board and great-grandson of founder Leon Leonwood Bean, told Bangor Daily News that it is not an issue.
“A cultural fit is equally as important,” he said. “In a family-run business for 103 years, we have a way of doing business. It’s not just about shareholders values. Steve’s personal values match with our corporate values.”
The new position means Smith will have to leave China for Maine—and he plans on staying for a while.
“It’s a privilege to have been selected as the next president and CEO of L.L. Bean. This is a company I have known well for many years as a customer, as well as a retail leader,” he said. “There aren’t many business leaders in the world who would leave the legacy that Leon has left, both in terms of the way he ran the business and the impact he had on the community… I see it as an honor and a duty to be a steward of such a great organization.”