Allbirds Expands Wholesale Presence with REI Partnership

The digitally-native Allbirds has inked another wholesale deal to sell its footwear.

The eco-friendly brand on Tuesday announced it will sell a selection of products in 41 REI retail stores, including five flagship locations, as well as via REI.com. Allbirds will sell a variety of lifestyle and perfomance products, including Tree Flyer, Trail Runner SWT, Wool Runner, Wool Piper, Wool Runner Mizzle, Wool Runner-Up Mizzle and more.

The new partnership represents yet another wholesale avenue for Allbirds to sell its products. In addition to its website and owned stores, Allbirds sells products in Nordstrom, Public Lands, House of Sports and Scheels.

While Allbirds began its life as a digitally-native, DTC brand, the company has seen major wins with its in-store sales in recent quarters. In 2021, Allbirds more than doubled its sales via physical stores, growing 112% to $52 million. In Q2 of 2021, Allbirds’ U.S. physical retail channel sales grew nearly 120% compared to 2021. The brand opened five stores in the U.S. in Q2 and ended the quarter with a total of 46 stores across the globe. Retail store perfomance was the main growth driver in the U.S. for Q2, Allbirds said.

In 2018, Allbirds partnered with Nordstrom for a concept pop-up showcasing five new colors beyond the brand’s full range of men and women’s styles. In August, Nordstrom teamed up with Allbirds again for a five-week Center Stage pop-up at the department store’s New York flagship.

While it is typical for brands to lean into digital channels, other digitally-native companies are making the leap to a strategy focused on physical store expansions. For example, Rihanna’s lingerie brand Savage X Fenty is opening five stores across the U.S. this year. Digitally native glasses company Warby Parker has also embarked on a store opening store spree in the last few years.

Digital sales are still important for Allbirds, and accounted for over 80% of sales in 2021. When it comes to wholesale partners, Allbirds takes a deliberate approach in its retailer selection process.

In a call with investors in February Allbirds cofounder and co-CEO Joey Zwillinger said that wholesale partners “need to be very brand additive.”

In August, Allbirds announced measures to alleviate headwinds in the current macroeconomic environment after reporting results for its second quarter. The footwear maker said it had implemented “Simplification Initiatives” to cut costs and generate revenue. These measures include “dramatically” slowing the pace of corporate new hires and replacements for employees who left as well as reducing its global corporate workforce by 8%, which the company carried out via layoffs.

Other cost saving measures include reducing corporate office space to support a hybrid work model, transitioning to automated distribution centers, optimizing inventory, and scaling manufacturing to reduce costs and product carbon footprints.

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