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The Birkenstock Brothers Are Worth $3.4 Billion, Even After the Shoemaker’s Shares Tanked at Its IPO

A Birkenstock shoe | Source: Shutterstock
The Birkenstock heirs are worth $3.4 billion. (Shutterstock)

Two of the heirs of German sandal maker Birkenstock are now worth a combined $3.4 billion after the company went public, Bloomberg reported.

This is despite the company’s opening being the worst in more than two years for a company listing for $1 billion or more in New York. Shares opened at $41 on Wednesday, 11 percent below their offer price of $46.

The nearly 250-year-old company listed on the New York Stock Exchange via an IPO, trading under the ticker “BIRK” and pushing up the fortunes of Alex and Christian Birkenstock.

Insider has approached the company for comment on Alex and Christian Birkenstock’s net worth.

The brothers became involved in the family sandal business — which traces its origins back to rural central Germany in 1774 — as teenagers in the 1980s and were later joined by their old brother Stephan.

In 2002, their father, Karl Birkenstock, stepped down and transferred management to the brothers. Around a decade later, the Birkenstock family gave up control, became a corporation, and appointed co-CEOs, its first non-family leaders. Stephan sold his shares, Bloomberg reported.

Alex and Christian Birkenstock, who prior to then had been the ultimate controlling parties of the company, sold a majority stake to private-equity firm L Catterton in 2021 in a deal that valued Birkenstock at $4.9 billion. The brothers netted more than €3 billion ($3.2 billion) from that transaction, Bloomberg reported.

Since then, Christian Birkenstock retained a minority stake in the company and has got a return of more than 100 percent, Bloomberg reported, while Alex Birkenstock is no longer a listed shareholder.

L Catterton is backed by billionaire Bernard Arnault’s luxury conglomerate LVMH. In an October filing, Birkenstock named his son, Alexandre Arnault, to the company’s board of directors.

According to Bloomberg, the brothers’ combined wealth places them on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

They are not within the top 500 people on the list, who are listed publicly online, with the 500th wealthiest person on that list, Charles Dolan, being worth over $5 billion.

Kendall Jenner made the shoes cool, while ‘Barbie’ mocked them

Birkenstock said that it sold about 30 million units in 2022, with revenues of 1.24 billion euros ($1.32 billion). Direct-to-customer sales made up 38 percent of revenues in fiscal 2022, up from 18 percent in fiscal 2018, which it said was mainly because of e-commerce growth. The company has about 45 stores, nearly half of which are in Germany, it said.

In its IPO prospectus, it said that 72 percent of its customers were female, more than half of its revenues came from the Americas, and more than a third came from Europe. Baby boomers, millennials, and Gen Xers each accounted for around 30 percent of its customers, with Gen Zers making up just 12 percent, it said.

Birkenstock’s IPO prospectus details how over the years the sandals became a mainstay for various groups – hippies in the 1960s and 1970s, eco-conscious people in the 1980s, and women in the 1990s.

The German orthopedic brand, long mocked as producing “ugly” shoes, has became a status symbol in recent years. Celebrities including Kendall Jenner and YouTuber Emma Chamberlain wore its $160 Boston clog, which subsequently sold out, and its sandals featured in Greta Gerwig’s blockbuster “Barbie” as a symbol of the world beyond Barbieland.

By Grace Dean

Learn more:

Unpacking Birkenstock’s Underwhelming Public Debut

Shares of the L Catterton-owned sandal maker sank on their first day of trading, a bad sign for other brands that are thinking about going public.

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