Birkenstock Distribution USA, the employee-owned importer and
distributor of Birkenstock footwear in the U.S., has been sold to
members of the family that has produced the line since 1774.
Terms of the sale to brothers Stephan, Alex and Christian Birkenstock were not disclosed, according to the Marin Independent-Journal in California. The distributor will continue to operate out of Novato, CA. The new corporate entity is Birkenstock USA LP.
“We are very excited about this agreement because it is the right thing
for our shareholders, our retail partners and the end consumer of
Birkenstock products,” said Gene Kunde, president and chief executive
of Birkenstock Distribution. “We see this as a major milestone in the
continued growth of the Birkenstock brand in the U.S. market.”
Edward Costa, a Birkenstock salesman, told the paper that the company's
new ownership makes sense in light of the high value of the euro
compared to the U.S. dollar.
“The nature of importing product from Germany and getting through the
port is more difficult for a distributor than a manufacturer,” Costa
said. “We are a more viable company now – we're not the distributor but
the actual manufacturer.”
The 60 Novato employees are expected to put their proceeds of the sale into retirement accounts.
Birkenstock USA had been 100 percent owned by employees since October
2002, when Margot Fraser, the company founder, passed on the remaining
shares of the business she founded to employees. Fraser founded
Birkenstock USA in 1966.