L.L.Bean Expanding into Quebec Market with 2 Stores, Launching French Language Website for Canada [Interview]

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L.L.Bean, the iconic, Maine-based outdoor retailer specializing in quality and durable outdoor gear and apparel, is opening its first two Quebec locations: Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville and Boisbriand.

L.L.Bean is also launching a French version of its website for its customers in Quebec and across Canada. In advance of the launch, customers can visit www.llbean.ca/Quebec for more details. 

Stephen Smith

“It’s an honour for L.L.Bean to be able to expand into Quebec and bring the L.L.Bean shopping experience to our Quebecois customers. We are also excited to reach new outdoor enthusiasts via our retail presence and our new French language website. We are looking forward to enabling everyone to enjoy the restorative power of being outside,” said Stephen Smith, President and CEO, L.L.Bean.

With 18,000 square feet of floor space, the Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville store, located at CF Promenades St-Bruno, will be ready for August 25. The Boisbriand location, in the heart of the Faubourg, will open its retail space of 11,500 square feet on September 29.

L.L.Bean at West Edmonton Mall (Image: Christopher Lui)

Charlie Bruder, Vice-President and General Manager of International & Wholesale at L.L.Bean, said the brand’s purpose is to inspire and enable people to experience the restorative power of being outside. 

Charlie Bruder

“So we really want to create those connections with the outdoors and as we think about Quebec, it is a great match for our purpose,” said Bruder. “We think about the green spaces, the parks, the mountains, the access to all those fantastic outdoor activities that are so restorative, it just felt like a perfect coupling.

“We’ve been serving the market through our website and have seen great growth there. Our business in Quebec through our website has doubled over the course of the past four years. For us, that was a great indicator that we’re really ready to create some physical presence in the market. That ultimately is what led us to the timing of now.

“Both are going to be in malls in outdoor lifestyle centre locations. Historically, we’ve seen those kind of more suburban locations, the ones that are a little bit on the outskirts, they tend to be the gateway to the outdoors and they’re places that people are traveling through as they’re going outside. They’re easily accessible. As we were doing our research we found an incredibly strong demographic fit for the brand. That’s what led us to those locations specifically.”

Exterior of L.L.Bean first Canadian store at Oakville Place. Photo: George Pimentel

Bruder said the retailer sees more potential growth in Quebec.

“With these two stores and continued momentum in our direct business, we’re going to look to re-double our business in Quebec in the near term here. We’re very excited in the tremendous potential in the Quebec market,” he said.

The company said the two new stores will ensure a coast-to-coast presence in Canada for the company. 

Wayne Drummond

“Since launching L.L.Bean in Canada five years ago, the brand has been actively expanding its physical presence in every major city from coast to coast. We’re delighted with the positive response and are excited to continue our growth with the opening of two new stores in Quebec, in Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville in August and Boisbriand later this fall. The addition of these new stores allows us to continue serving outdoor adventure enthusiasts in Quebec by providing them with quality clothing and equipment for their outdoor activities,” said Wayne Drummond, President, Jaytex Group. Drummond was president of Hudson’s Bay stores until last year when he retired from the company after 34 years.        

L.L.Bean has 110 years of history and nearly 100 stores around the world, including 13 in Canada operated by Canadian licensing partner Jaytex Group.

Image: L.L.Bean (Ottawa Train Yards)

In addition to apparel and outerwear, the company also offers travel, hiking and camping equipment, footwear, and home and pet products. Outdoor enthusiasts will find everything they need.

“We are going to continue to strategically assess opportunities (in Canada) but we want to continue to grow our store footprint in partnership. We actually work with a fantastic partner who licenses our brand and operates our stores up in Canada – Jaytex Group out of Toronto. And they do a fantastic job and have been awesome partners and they’ve been constantly looking very opportunistically at the market for where would be a good fit,” said Bruder. 

L.L.Bean, Inc. is a leading multichannel merchant of quality outdoor gear and apparel. Founded in 1912 by Leon Leonwood Bean, the company began as a one-room operation selling a single product, the Maine Hunting Shoe. Still family owned, Shawn Gorman, great grandson of Leon Leonwood Bean, was named Chairman of the Board of Directors in 2013. 

L.L.Bean operates 56 stores in the U.S and 25 stores in Japan, and has 13 licensed retail store locations in Canada. The 220,000-square-foot  L.L.Bean retail store campus in Freeport, ME, is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and welcomes more than three million visitors every year. 

Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He is the Senior News Editor with Retail Insider in addition to working as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training. Mario was named as a RETHINK Retail Top Retail Expert in 2024.

2 COMMENTS

  1. This is both good and bad news. Good because I’ve been waiting for a store to open in Montreal and bad because the stores won’t be in Montreal. I refuse to drive anymore so I’m not sure how I’m going to get to either of them. The lack of stores accessible using public transit is one of the biggest things I miss since I moved here from Vancouver. I love Montreal but it’s way too car-dependent. The city is trying to address this. Too bad businesses are making it so hard.

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