FREEPORT, Maine (AP) -- L.L. Bean's grandson Leon Gorman is retiring as chairman of the board of the outdoors retailer after serving some 45 years as chairman or CEO, but the privately held company is keeping the position in the family.

The Maine-based retailer informed its 5,000 full- and part-time workers on Monday that L.L.'s great-grandson Shawn Gorman will serve as chairman, underscoring a commitment to family ownership.

Shawn Gorman, who served as a senior executive, said there's been a careful behind-the-scenes transition over the past two years led by his 78-year-old uncle, Leon Gorman, who will keep a seat on the board but will back away from day-to-day operations. Chris McCormick, the first CEO from outside the family, retains his position.

"Leon is a walking legend around here," Shawn Gorman said, referring to his uncle, who modernized the company and created the first computerized customer database after he took over upon L.L. Bean's death in 1967. "He made this business what it is. I'm here to make sure it continues for the next 100 years."

L.L. Bean, with more than $1.5 billion in annual sales, got its start in 1912 when L.L. Bean obtained the state's list of out-of-state hunters and sent out mailings touting his rubber-soled hunting boots. The first store opened five years later.

Leon Gorman served for 33 years as president and CEO, and as chairman of the board for 12 years. He'll retain the title of "chairman emeritus."

Shawn Gorman, 47, has worked for L.L. Bean for more than 20 years, serving in a number of roles before becoming senior vice president for brand communications.

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