Susanne Birkenstock had set up her own company, SB International, two years ago, to market a special line of “Beauty Step” sandals which, she claimed, help women to lose some of their cellulitis. She did so after her separation from Christian Birkenstock, the leading heir to his family empire, leading to a number of suits and countersuits.

The pretty 35-year-old lady, who has appeared in many German magazines and talk shows lately, has apparently run into financial problems, however. Last May she passed the management of her company on to her new companion, Dieter Kaltwasser, and the company is now in the equivalent of Chapter 11 proceedings, reportedly owing lots of money to its Spanish supplier, Calzados Marclop.

Susanne Birkenstock has since claimed that SB International’s financial problems were linked to those of OTC International, which has been distributing her Beauty Step collection and which has suffered from the bankruptcy of another firm. Her Spanish supplier has reportedly claimed that she sold only 15,000 pairs of sandals in 2004, way below the level of 35,000 pairs that she had publicized. She says that’s not true, indicating that she was taking legal action against it.