L.L.Bean’s Smith to headline New England Craft Brew Summit

The New England Craft Brew Summit, the largest B2B conference for the craft brewing industry on the East Coast, will return to Portland on March 7, 2024 for its eighth year. Stephen Smith, President and CEO of L.L.Bean will kick off the day as keynote speaker, followed by more than 20 workshops from industry leaders.  

When the New England Craft Brew Summit launched in 2015, craft beer was on the verge of massive growth, experiencing the excitement and uncertainty of a new industry. Nearly ten years later, the landscape looks much different as craft brewing transitions from new kid on the block to a mature industry. This year’s summit will dive into those changes with the theme of “From Startup to Steady.”

“This year’s Summit will help brewers face industry changes head on, with clear eyes for the challenges and opportunities ahead,” said Jenn Lever, president of the Maine Brewers’ Guild. “I can think of no better brand than L.L.Bean to help us kick off this day of learning and collaboration. Much of craft brewing’s success has been built on authentic experiences, and L.L.Bean has more than a century of experience sharing their authentic Maine brand.”

Smith has been at the helm of L.L.Bean since 2016, guiding the brand through a shifting retail landscape, company-wide change agenda, COVID-19 and the best three years of business performance in the company’s 112-year history. Prior to L.L.Bean, Stephen held a variety of senior leadership positions across sales, marketing, merchandising, and general management in the U.S., Belgium, China and the United Kingdom – for companies including the Delhaize Group (Hannaford), Asda Stores Limited and Walmart International.

“I look forward to spending time with this group of New England entrepreneurs and business leaders. Whether you’ve been in business for decades or are just starting out, having a community to lean on and learn from is crucial and it is great to see the brewers come together to support one another,” said Smith. 

Smith’s keynote will focus on business lessons for longevity from the perspective of a century-old company that has navigated cycles of growth and slowdown over the decades. He will share information about L.L.Bean’s history and the business today, leaving brewers with five key lessons for long-term business success.

Presented by Allen Insurance and Financial, the New England Craft Brew Summit will feature a range of presentations, panels and tabletop discussions. Topics will range from how to get your product in more grocery stores to employee wellbeing and new technologies in brewing. The conference is expected to draw more than 500 industry professionals from across the region.

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