Birkenstock plans to enter the global licensing business by means of collaborations in four areas: healthy living & sleeping, healthy working environment, healthy feet & walking and healthy lifestyle. With licensing deals in these sectors, the German brand hopes to reinforce its image of comfort and to appeal to new target groups. A Birkenstock manager denies a report that it may also use its growing popularity to jump into the growing running footwear sector.
Together with a business consultancy, Trademark One or TM1, Birkenstock is evaluating discussions with possible partners, to judge whether certain products fit with the brand. The products under consideration for licensing in the future under the Birkenstock brand are, among others, socks, mattresses, wall paint and office furniture.
The license partners should be family-driven businesses with the same tradition as Birkenstock, possessing a certain degree of innovation and distribution power and controlling the value chain. For the socks segment, Birkenstock plans to work together with national brands in the markets where they will be sold, setting up a territorial licensing program.
The new licensing plans come after the previously reported reorganization of the group, the recruitment of new top-level managers and the company's decision to invest in marketing They also come at a time of strong growth for Birkenstock, especially in the U.S. and Asia. Sales in Asia and the U.S. almost doubled in the first half of this year. Birkenstock is currently going ahead with its plan to raise its annual production from 12 million pairs to 20 million by the end of 2020, and there is a report that the growth could be higher. All of Birkenstock's shoes are made in the company's own factories in Germany.
The recent success is mainly attributed to Birkenstock's decision to cut down the number of styles and focus on the Birkenstock brand name. Last October, Birkenstock decided to keep the Birki's and Papillo brands and change the Alpro brand to Birkenstock Professional, Tatami to Birkenstock Premium, Footprints to Birkenstock shoes, and all the children's shoes produced by the group, except for licensed products, to Birkenstock Kids. Birko, the group's brand of orthopedic insoles, has changed its name to Birkenstock Accessories.
Birkenstock also created new positions in sales and communication last year, with Jochen Dutzy working as head of communications for the group since last July. Frank Maasfelder was hired for the position a head of global sales and Michael Dörner for the position as area manager for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
Together with its expansion in the U.S. and Asia, Birkenstock has apparently attracted a new spectrum of customers, mainly younger and more male than previously, without losing its traditional customers.
Birkenstock is currently working on a new store concept as part of its marketing plan and aims to open new mono-brand stores on an international basis, especially in the U.S. and Asia, in the next couple of years.