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The Associated Press reports that outdoor retailer LL Bean said that revenues were flat at $1.6 billion for the second straight year, following a run of five years' of growth before 2015.

While the company did not directly comment on it, the fact is that flat sales may have been something of a victory since LL Bean - a famously apolitical company - has been dealing with a political controversy started with board member Linda Bean vocally and financially supported the Trump campaign. A sizable percentage of LL Bean's customer base found this offensive, and there were calls for a boycott, which led to a Trump Tweet calling for people shop at LL Bean, which only exacerbated the problem.
KC's View:
I'm a big fan of LL Bean - both the company and the products they sell - and I'm encouraged by the fact that its leadership is freezing pensions and offering voluntary early retirements, as well as giving a three percent cash performance bonus to its approximately 6,000 workers; it is letting people know that the company needs to be more efficient, while still rewarding employees who, the company knows, create much of its differential advantages. That's a lesson that a lot of retailers should learn.

The AP story points out that one of LL Bean's current projects is rethinking its liberal free shipping and unlimited returns policies, and I'll be interested to see how this plays out since these will be seen as foundational tenets that it will adjust at its own risk. Transparency will be incredibly important here - and I think that all the evidence is that leadership knows this and will handle the challenge well. They have to, if they are going to get LL Bean moving up the growth curve again.