Birkenstock Taps U.S. CEO

NEW YORK — Birkenstock USA has named Dan Bazinet as CEO.

The appointment comes just weeks after Alex Birkenstock, co-owner of the Vettelschoss, Germany-based company, announced plans on Sept. 9 to step away from the day-to-day operations of the business.

Bazinet succeeds former president and CEO Gene Kunde, who resigned in May. Prior to this announcement, Justin Orell-Jones, SVP of sales and marketing, had been heading U.S. operations.

Previously, Bazinet served as the principal of Full Scope Management, a San Francisco-based consulting firm. He has also held top positions at Timberland Co., Overland Trading Co. and Stride Rite.

“Dan has been at the retail level, sales and product development, so he’s a got a pretty good background in the industry,” said Danny Wasserman of Tip Top Shoes. “He’s also been involved in Germany with [Sioux, a comfort brand distributed through Full Scope Management], so I think he understands the retailer. He’s a good choice.”

Retailers are hoping new leadership could help get Birkenstock back on track in the U.S. “They’ve had a difficult 10 years, but it’s not about the intrinsic value of the product. It’s really a matter of getting away from whatever has been the problem in the past,” said Richard Polk of Pedestrian Shops. Birkenstock has a history of distribution and supply-chain issues, resulting in unfilled orders and inventory problems for retailers.

“Every new appointment will impact the [Birkenstock] brand in a certain direction, but the fact that the Birkenstock family has consolidated will probably impact it more than anything else,” Wasserman said.

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