After months of talks and speculation, the German sandal maker has confirmed the deal. It's a move that many believe will bring Birkenstock closer to the center of luxury.
Founders Christian and Alex Birkenstock said that the sale would “further strong growth in future growth markets such as China and India” and the new partners would invest in German sites and expand production, logistics, and sales operations. “At the same time the company plans to invest in the further development of its direct-to-consumer business and the expansion of its e-commerce platforms,” Birkenstock said in a statement.
Last month, Birkenstock was rumored to be in talks with CVC Capital Partners over a potential $4.8 billion acquisition. Earlier in February, L Catterton — a partnership between LVMH and Catterton — joined the race. According to sources close to the talks, they were looking to close the deal by March. Now, with a relatively small co-investment in Birkenstock, the luxury giant stands to benefit from direct ties to one of Germany’s largest footwear manufacturers.
Since Phoebe Philo debuted fur-clad versions of the sandal on the SS13 Céline runway, a number of luxury brands have also embraced Birkenstock. There have also been collaborations with brands including Opening Ceremony, Rick Owens, and most recently, Valentino.
Having sustained its cool for over 250 years, the brand best known for its two-strap Arizona sandal could be headed further down the luxury path. The deal with L Catterton presents obvious opportunities for collaboration as well as a presence in the duty-free sector via the French company’s DFS subsidiary.
Birkenstock was already rumored to have been exploring a sale for months with the help of bankers at Goldman Sachs. People briefed on the potential CVC sale told the Financial Times: "Buyout group Permira and at least one other private equity group have also expressed interest in buying Birkenstock."
Various potential investors hoped to grow sales in new markets while capitalizing on Birkenstock's loyal customer base. As Highsnobiety's sportswear editor noted last year: "The sandals weren't always considered cool among the fashion-conscious crowd — that's more of a recent phenomenon. But as with most iconic products, the shoes have been highly popular among subcultures for as long as they’ve existed."
A person close to the unsuccessful CVC deal revealed to the FT that executives reasoned that Birkenstock’s longevity as a brand and prolonged appeal made it "less likely to fluctuate with fashion than that of Dr. Martens, which Permira owns and is planning to list."
In Friday's statement, Birkenstock confirmed it is “performing better than ever before in its 250-year history and reported “another record year” despite the coronavirus pandemic.
As yet, the financial details of the deal have not been disclosed. Highsnobiety has reached out to Birkenstock for comment.