In pursuit of a more premium image, Birkenstock is making itself unavailable for the smaller retail outlets that have supported the brand through the years. Some are even going to court to regain access to their (Birken)stock.
Going to court
There is dissatisfaction among a lot of (mainly smaller and independent) shoe stores, as Birkenstock refuses to supply them anymore. In Belgium, there are even retailers who want to take legal action because they have suddenly been scrapped as a distribution point. Orders for 2024 are simply not being accepted in some cases, Belgian newspaper De Tijd reports.
The brand was purchased by LVMH-boss Bernard Arnault in 2021, through his investment funds L Catterton and Financière Agache. In October this year, the company also went public on the stock exchange, where it immediately became worth 7.2 billion euros. The fact that the sandals were also mocked in the Barbie movie only gave it extra popularity.
Following Nike’s example
Birkenstock is now following Nike’s example with a conscious strategy of direct sales and exclusivity. Like the trainer manufacturer, the label realises that selling directly to consumers provides higher margins, more control and a wealth of data. This also allows the company to better manage production and inventory.
The sandal brand also benefits from keen image management: by being very selective and careful in its choice of sales partners, the label can put itself in the market as a premium brand. It appears to be a positioning that works, as sales clocked in at 1.24 billion in 2022 – four times more than in 2014.