Orvis appoints third generation Perkins as new president

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SUNDERLAND — The Orvis Company, the 164-year-old, family-owned outdoor retailer headquartered in Sunderland with its flagship store and a retail outlet in Manchester, has announced the appointment of a new president.

Simon Perkins, the third generation of the Perkins family to lead the company since 1965, "will assume full strategic and operational leadership of the company as president," the retailer said in a news release Tuesday.

Perkins, 37, of Manchester, has served as the firm's chief operating officer since August 2018, according to the release. He started with the company in 2012 as commerce merchant for fly fishing and hunting, and later held leadership roles in merchandising, adventures and brand marketing. He will replace outgoing president and CEO Bill McLaughlin, who "will act as an advisor through the transition period," the firm said.

Perkins' father is Leigh "Perk" Perkins, Orvis CEO from 1993 until 2018. The new president's grandfather Leigh H. Perkins purchased Orvis in 1965 and retired in 1992.

"This company has meant so much to me throughout my life as I've watched it grow into the brand it is today," Simon Perkins said in the release. "Orvis has the ability to make this world a better place, to inspire others to get outside, explore and connect with the outdoor wonders of the world. I look forward to working with our incredible team and partners to continue providing best in class products and service to our customers, and guiding the company and our community into the future."

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Leadership roles on the company's board of directors have also recently changed, according to the release. Marka Hansen, a former executive with The Gap and Banana Republic, is now the board's chair, and Roger Farah, another former retail executive, has become vice chair and special advisor to the president. Perk Perkins and and his brother David Perkins, who previously held the chairman and vice chairman roles, respectively, will continue to serve on the board in at-large seats.

"Simon is the ideal leader to drive our brand forward, continuing to inspire our customers, associates, and partners to lead more fulfilling lives rooted in our core pursuits of fly fishing and wing shooting with dogs at our sides," Hansen said in the release. "Simon has served as a unifying leader across departments and categories, overseeing significant growth in our Orvis Adventures business, and acting as a leading voice in the evolution of product innovation, brand storytelling, and purpose-led business initiatives."

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Before his time with Orvis, Simon Perkins spent nearly a dozen years as an upland hunting and fly fishing guide in Montana, according to the release.

Since joining the firm, he has championed projects aimed at diversifying the sport of fly fishing. Among his efforts are the "50/50 on the Water" initiative aimed at getting more women into fly fishing and the "Breaking Barriers Award," which highlights individuals working to break down barriers and introduce new audiences to the sport of fly fishing.

Perkins serves on the advisory board of Trout Unlimited's Headwaters youth program and has been involved with Orvis' advocacy for various conservation projects, according to the release.

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In an email on Tuesday night, Perkins wrote that the coronavirus pandemic "has been really challenging for Orvis, much like it has been for other retailers." All of the firm's retail locations were closed until last week, though it has offered curbside pickup at many stores.

The company has made up to 2,000 face masks every at its fulfillment center in Roanoke, Va., and dozens of face shields every week at its rod manufacturing facility in Manchester, according to Perkins. The company has seen a spike in public engagement with its how-to content online as well as a "significant increase" in fly-fishing and dog products online, he wrote.

Founded in 1856 in Manchester, Orvis currently operates 88 retail stores in the United States and United Kingdom. The company commits 5 percent of its pretax profits annually to conservation initiatives around the world.

Contact Luke Nathan at lnathan@benningtonbanner.com.


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