Birkenstock, a 250-year old company that was once ridiculed for its “Jesus sandals”, is now enjoying a boom in popularity.
L Catterton is a private equity firm that has hired Goldman Sachs to examine options for Birkenstock, including a possible US float.
The deal comes two years after L Catterton bought a majority stake in the shoemaker for €4.9bn.
Birkenstock’s family remains involved with the company. Christian and Alex Birkenstock are reportedly each worth $1.7bn after selling their stake to L Catterton. This firm is supported by LVMH CEO Bernard Arnault who is second in the world for richest men behind Tesla and Twitter owner Elon Musk.
It is unclear how much the brothers are involved in the business, but a 30% stake could be worth $1.8bn or £1.4bn if the company were to go public and achieve a valuation of $6bn.
Birkenstock can trace its roots back to Johann Adam Birkenstock in 1774. He was a cobbler in Langen-Bergheim in Germany. Over a century later, his great-great-grandson, Konrad Birkenstock, developed the first contoured and flexible insoles for shoes.
Karl Birkenstock developed the cork-soled shoe in 1963. They were marketed under the name “fitness sandals”, to promote a “natural gait”.
In the 1960s, the company began to import them. They became associated with hippies and tourists. Older generations also mocked the sandals for their “ugliness” and called “Jesus sandals”.
In the 1990s, they were worn by celebrities such as Leonardo Di Caprio or Kendall Jenner.
Birkenstock also has a collaboration with high-end labels such as Dior and Manolo Blahnik, with some of the shoes costing almost £1,000.
The company’s British subsidiary has seen its revenues increase by 57pc in 2021, as shoppers returned to the high street after the pandemic, and home workers began looking for more comfortable shoes.
Birkenstock declined to comment. JP Morgan also declined. Goldman Sachs was contacted to comment.