Business

Birkenstock goes luxury as it joins LVMH-Arnault stable

A subsidiary of French luxury group LVMH and its billionaire owner Bernard Arnault have purchased a majority stake in Birkenstock, the German maker of the iconic and eponymous sandals said Friday.

No details were given about the price paid by LVMH subsidiary L Catterton and Arnault’s family holding fund Financiere Agache, but analysts put the price-tag at around 4.0 billion euros ($4.9 billion).

“For the next 250 years we need partners sharing the same strategic and long-term vision as the Birkenstock family,” brothers Christian and Alex Birkenstock said in a statement.

The new co-owners “bring both a deep understanding of the details of a manufacturing business that is all about quality and a respect for brands with a long heritage like ours,” said the two brothers, who will retain a stake in the company.

Founded in 1774 by Johann Adam Birkenstock, the company started off making orthopedic shoes. By 1897, Konrad Birkenstock had made the first flexible sole fitting the contours of the feet.

The company remained in family hands and in the 1990s was given a celebrity boost when supermodel Kate Moss wore them for a fashion shoot.

The wide-strapped flat sandals persist as popular footwear for Hollywood stars in the summer.

Birkenstock now employs 4,300 people around the world, and reported a record year in revenues in 2020 even though much of walk-in retail was shuttered across the world as governments scrambled to halt the coronavirus pandemic. via Agence France-Presse

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