Jan 20, 2021
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Birkenstock attracts attention from CVC Capital Partners

Jan 20, 2021

Iconic footwear manufacturer Birkenstock, whose sandals have become a symbol of German comfort, has received interest from investment fund CVC Capital Partners, which is currently in negotiations to acquire the family-run company, according to press reports.

Michael Ullrich/Markus Ebner

Negotiations between the inheritors of the brand and CVC are at an "advanced" stage, according to Bloomberg, which estimates the company's total value to be around 4 billion euros, debt included. 

According to The Financial Times, at least two other investment firms are interested in the German group, whose origins can be traced back to 1774 and the first mention of a master cobbler named Birkenstock in the historical archives. 

CVC did not wish to comment on the reports when approached by AFP on Tuesday, and Birkenstock has not yet responded. 

Previously seen only as a manufacturer of orthopedic soles featured in sandals that were generally considered to be comfortable but unattractive, the footwear company has come a long way, modernizing its image and even appearing on the catwalk.

Since 1897, when Konrad Birkenstock, a shoemaker based near Frankfurt, came up with his first sole designed to respect the anatomy of the foot and reproduce the natural movement of walking, the company has remained in the same family, currently represented by Alex and Christian Birkenstock, two of Konrad's great grandsons. 

The pair pulled off a first strategic turnaround in 2013, when they confided the management of the group to Oliver Reichert and Markus Bensberg, who reorganized the company and conquered new markets.

One of their main objectives was to restore order to the group, which owned more than 30 autonomous companies at the time. 

Betting on a philosophy of German quality linked to natural materials and an authentic image, the group won over the fashion world and was able to develop its operations in Asia and the Middle East. 

One of the group's principal production sites is in Görlitz, on the German-Polish border. 

Birkenstock sold more than 24 million pairs of sandals in 2019, posting revenues of 720 million euros, according to Bloomberg. Sales were driven by sandals, but also by the company's diversification efforts, which notably included the launch of cosmetics. 

CVC Capital Partners' previous acquisitions include that of Swiss watchmaker Breitling in 2017, as well as the more recent purchase of German fragrance manufacturer Douglas

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