The company producing Birkenstock flip-flops will soon be listed on the New York Stock Exchange. This shouldn’t be surprising considering how dynamic the company is. And if someone associates flip-flops with the simplest designs and clumsy construction, they may be surprised.
You can say that they are unattractive or even ugly, you can swear that you will never wear them – but so what if they have been finding buyers for 250 years and bringing their owners huge amounts of money? We’re talking about Birkenstock sandals. The history of the brand dates back to 1774, when in Neustadt, Germany, Johann Adam Birkenstock created comfortable shoes for everyday walking. To this day, most of Birkenstock’s factories are located in Germany. The company employs approximately three thousand employees.
Birkenstock will go public. It could be a hit
They could remain “orthopedic shoes for everyday use”, eagerly purchased by, for example, doctors and nurses, i.e. representatives of professions that require all-day movement. However, the popular sandals were “raised to a higher level” by Bernard Arnault, the owner of the LVMH concern, the richest European and one of the richest people in the world. The L Catterton investment fund controlled by him acquired majority shares in Birkenstock for four billion euros in 2021.
In September 2023, the company will debut on the New York Stock Exchange, Bloomberg first reported. Analysts estimate that the debut will bring a valuation of over eight billion dollars, or maybe closer to ten billion.
Birkenstock collaborated with Dior and Monolo Blahnik
Last year, Birkenstock recorded a 29 percent increase in revenues and a profit of nearly EUR 400 million. The popularity of sandals is a result of changing values of many customers: people increasingly value the comfort and durability of a product, and Birkenstock sandals provide both. Moreover, designers do not sit on their hands, but design new versions of sandals in cooperation with luxury fashion houses. The designers of Dior and Monolo Blahnik have already created their own version of the sandals.
The flip-flops have not changed their traditional shape, but they have gained a new texture. Dior filled them with light and gray felt. They also feature Dior’s signature rollercoaster buckle. The soles were complemented with embossed Dior Oblique and Birkenstock motifs. In turn, the series created in cooperation with Monolo Blahnik was prepared using velvet material in shades of fuchsia, navy blue and black, and the whole thing was decorated with diamonds and crystals referring to the famous Carrie Bradshaw shoes.
Bernard Arnault, luxury seller
Who is the man who saw these sandals as something more than just clunky shoes for long walks? Bernard Arnault is the founder of the most famous luxury goods concern: it owns brands such as Christian Dior, Donna Karan, Fendi, Givenchy, Kenzo, Marc Jacobs and many others.
Usually, where huge amounts of money are involved, there are major disputes, but under the roof of LVMH, the coexistence of the biggest fashion names seems to be surprisingly peaceful.
Born in 1949, the French businessman did not immediately take up fashion. His father ran a successful engineering company, Ferret-Savinel, which was transformed into the development company Férinel in the 1970s. Arnault played an important role in it, and when the profits from it enabled very bold purchases, in the 1980s he acquired two companies operating in the luxury goods industry: Financière Agache and Boussac. The latter included the famous Le Bon Marché department store and the Christian Dior brand.
Appetite grows with eating, and company legends say that a few years later, Arnault announced that his goal would be to build the largest luxury brand management company within the next decade. He chose LVMH Moët Hennessy – Louis Vuitton (the LVMH group was established in 1987 as a result of the merger of Louis Vuitton with Moët Hennessy) and bought shares for USD 2.6 billion, which allowed him to become the largest shareholder, and soon after he became its president.