Birkenstock is pulling out of the German shoe retailing cooperatives ANWR, GMS and Sabu on the grounds that they are allegedly not sufficiently committed to fighting product piracy.
The withdrawal takes effect from December 31. Birkenstock has been a member of the trade associations for more than five years. From January, the company will be delivering directly to the cooperatives’ affiliates, which can already start contacting it for orders and other inquiries.
”We will continue to be fully available for these trading partners who share the same values as we do,” said Michael Schmitz, managing director Europe at Birkenstock. “However, because design and brand protection is particularly important for all parties involved, especially in difficult times, we no longer see a future for us in the majority of purchasing associations.”
Birkenstock is no stranger to taking drastic action against product plagiarism. In 2017, it terminated its cooperation with Amazon Europe because the company was allegedly doing too little to combat counterfeit products in the Amazon Marketplace. A couple of years later, Birkenstock also ended its collaboration with ABC-Mart, a major Japanese trading partner with whom Birkenstock had worked for almost 20 years. The German footwear maker accused ABC-Mart of producing counterfeits and selling them under its own private brand of footwear, Hawkins.
Birkenstock‘s move against the German trade assocations comes as it continues to enjoy strong results. In an interview with Footwear News, the chief executive, Oliver Reichert, indicated that in the financial year ending on September 30, Birkenstock will post record revenues, beating the €721.5 million booked the previous year despited a two-month shutdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, Ebit will be slightly below the €160.7 million registered last year.