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Birkenstock Files for IPO

Birkenstock has made its move.

The L Catterton-backed sandal-maker filed for an initial public offering — a move that telegraphs the strength of the company and the market.

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The registration statement, filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, confirms a July 6 report in WWD that the company was preparing to make its Wall Street introduction.

Other companies weighing IPOs are watching Birkenstock closely and a strong offering, the early buzz is the valuation could top $8 billion, could help reignite the market.

In a letter included with the registration statement, chief executive officer Oliver Reichert told prospective shareholders that, “Birkenstock is more than a shoe. lt’s a way of thinking, a way of living.”

Recounting his first impressions when he joined the company in 2009, Reichert said: “Birkenstock was a sleeping giant — a brand that had endured for centuries since 1774 and was widely revered, resonating with and even shaping the zeitgeist for decades to this day, stubborn in a positive sense, undeterred by fashion trends and proudly German. Birkenstock had all the essential elements of a super brand — a rich heritage at its core built around our purpose to empower all people to walk as intended by nature; an unyielding approach to craftsmanship combined with an obsession for quality; a vast product archive with an impressive variety of iconic silhouettes; a steadily growing global following sharing similar values and beliefs, and a uniquely democratic approach to innovation, pricing and distribution.”

The filing puts the spotlight clearly on Birkenstock and, for the first time, reveals the brand’s finances.

For the year ended Sept. 30, the company posted 187 million euros in net earnings and adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of 434.6 million euros. Sales tallied 1.2 billion euros.

In the first half of this year, adjusted EBITDA tallied 224.4 million euros on sales of 644.2 million euros.

As is typically the case for the first filing on the road to an IPO, many of the key details were left blank, including just how many shares will be sold and at what price.

L Catterton, which bills itself as the largest consumer-focused private equity company in the world, bought a majority stake in Birkenstock in 2021. Although the valuation was never revealed, it was said at the time to be around 4 billion euros.

Birkenstock was an unusual catch for L Catterton — a brand with a long heritage that is immediately recognizable, of scale and very profitable.

The filing, which is more than 100 pages, offered a window into just how the business works.

Birkenstock is especially known for its footbed, which hasn’t changed in more than 120 years. Every footbed the brand sells is made in the company’s own facilities in Germany, which also assembles 95 percent of its products.

The brand has more than 700 silhouettes, with the core looks being the Madrid, Arizona, Boston, Gizeh and Mayari.

Birkenstock has been prioritizing two key markets — the Americas, which made up 54 percent of the brand’s revenues last year, and Europe, which accounted for 36 percent of revenues.

“We optimize growth and profitability through a multichannel DTC and B2B distribution strategy that we refer to as engineered distribution,” the company said in its fling. “We operate our channels synergistically, seeking to grow both simultaneously. We utilize the B2B channel to facilitate brand accessibility while steering consumers to our DTC channel, which offers our complete product range and access to our most desired and unique silhouettes. Across both channels, we execute a strategic allocation and product segmentation process, often down to the single door level, to ensure we sell the right product in the right channel at the right price point.”

Direct-to-consumer revenues have grown at a compounded growth rate of 42 percent between 2018 and 2022, when the channel made up 38 percent of revenues.

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