Birkenstock Dubbed the ‘Official Work From Home Shoe’ as Its Business Continues to Grow

After experiencing one of its strongest years ever in 2020 — thanks to a global consumer shift toward comfortable work-from-home fashion due to the pandemic — Birkenstock’s business is most certainly booming.

In fact, in a recent interview with David Kahan, CEO of Birkenstock Americas, FN learned that 2021 started with Birkenstock being dubbed the “official work from home shoe,” which Kahan acknowledges as a “nice description.”

“The pandemic itself has been quite an amplifier for the Birkenstock brand,” Kahan told FN. “Our greatest accomplishment is that as the world shifted and reawakened to a large degree, our brand became far broader in peoples’ lives.”

This is the latest in the German footwear brand’s recent winning streak. Last year, Birkenstock Group co-CEO Oliver Reichert told FN that the company’s annual revenues for fiscal 2020 (which ended last September) had easily surpassed the prior year. The strength of the comfort shoe brand was so great, in fact, that it began courting multiple investors, eventually landing a deal with private equity firm L Catterton and Financière Agache. The two investment vehicles — backed by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton and luxury titan Bernard Arnault and his family respectively — acquired a majority stake in Birkenstock and are helping to fuel its global expansion, particularly in Asia.

Birkenstock, which took home the 2020 FN Achievement Award for Brand of the Year, also managed to expand its brick-and-mortar footprint this year. In April, Birkenstock opened the doors to its third U.S. flagship in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, NY. This brought the brand’s retail location count to 54 owned stores globally.

Prior to the pandemic, Birkenstock had been taking a slow-and-steady approach to owned retail in the U.S. Its first stateside flagship debuted in New York’s SoHo neighborhood in 2018, followed by a location in Venice Beach, CA, in 2019.

And the brand is showing no signs of slowing down. Looking ahead, Kahan told FN that the brand has seen an “incredible amount” of closed toe shoe business this year. “As a matter of fact, within the next year, non-sandals will be 40% of our total business and within two years, easily over 50% – a few years back, this was inconceivable but now we have made this transition,” Kahan noted.

This, along with emerging categories like adventure sandals have made Birkenstock part of people’s lives – at home, on vacation, to/from “work” – however their lives may look in the future, Kahan added. “It’s a major shift and we orchestrated it faster than expected by anyone looking from the outside in.”

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