Birkenstock warns in IPO filing that knock-offs on Facebook are a top risk

Miami, Florida, Coral Gables Shops at Merrick Park, Nordstrom Department Store retail show of Birkenstock sandals. 

Jeff Greenberg | Universal Images Group | Getty Images

Birkenstock, the enduring sandal maker based in 1774, filed its paperwork for an IPO on Tuesday, and warned buyers of the dangers posed by counterfeit manufacturers who use social media to advertise their merchandise.

The footwear firm, which was began in Germany and is now based mostly in London, plans to go public on the New York Stock Exchange, below ticker image “BIRK.”

Birkenstock has lengthy struggled to guard its mental property, as copycats have taken benefit of the model’s reputation and premium costs to try to undercut the corporate with cheaper alternate options. In its prospectus, Birkenstock says that a number of the competitors comes from “private label offerings” from retailers, however there are additionally “knock-off products” which might be stealing its IP and attempting to persuade folks on Facebook and elsewhere on the net that the gadgets are genuine.

“In the past, third parties have established websites to target users on Facebook or other social media platforms with ‘look alike’ websites intended to trick users into believing that they were purchasing Birkenstock products at a steep discount,” the submitting stated. “Should counterfeit products be successfully sold on e-commerce platforms managed by third parties, our brands and reputation could be damaged.”

Birkenstock does not identify Amazon wherever within the 206-page (plus footnotes) submitting, but it surely does say that it has “refrained, and we may in the future refrain, from using certain third-party websites to distribute our products due to the selling of counterfeit products on such platforms.”

Seven years in the past, Birkenstock publicly stop Amazon within the U.S. as a consequence of an eruption of counterfeit and unauthorized gross sales on the location. The firm additionally stated on the time that it will now not enable approved Birkenstock retailers to promote on Amazon.

“The Amazon marketplace, which operates as an ‘open market,’ creates an environment where we experience unacceptable business practices which we believe jeopardize our brand,” then-Birkenstock USA CEO David Kahan wrote in a memo on July 5, 2016, addressed to “our valued Birkenstock partners.”

Kahan, whose title is now President Americas, went onto say that “policing this activity internally and in partnership with has proven impossible.”

Prior to its departure from Amazon, legions of Chinese sellers had been selling Birkenstock’s flagship Arizona sandal for $79.99, or $20 under the retail worth, in response to CNBC’s reporting on the time.

Since 2016, in response to the prospectus, Birkenstock has “significantly expanded” its direct-to-consumer efforts in e-commerce within the U.S. For the fiscal 12 months ended Sept. 30, 2022, that channel represented 38% of income, the corporate stated, including that “one of our strategies is to continue to increase the proportion of our revenues from e-commerce.”

Subsequent to the Amazon conflict, Birkenstock offered a majority stake within the firm to LVMH-backed non-public fairness agency L Catterton in February 2021. After the IPO, L Catterton will proceed to personal a majority of Birkenstock, in response to the submitting.

“We see ourselves as the oldest start-up on earth,” the corporate stated within the submitting. “We are a brand backed by a family tradition of a quarter of a millennium with the resilience, timeless relevance, and credibility of a multigenerational business.”

Facebook father or mother Meta is properly conscious of the efforts taken by counterfeiters on its platform. In 2021, Facebook and luxurious model Gucci filed a joint lawsuit in California, alleging {that a} person of Facebook’s U.S. websites was utilizing the platform to promote pretend Gucci merchandise.

The corporations stated in a press release that over one million “pieces of content were removed from Facebook and Instagram in the first half of 2020, based on thousands of reports of counterfeit content from brand owners, including Gucci.”

In the six months ended March 31, Birkenstock’s income climbed 19% to 644.2 million euros ($693.2 million). Net revenue over that stretched dropped 45%, largely as a consequence of a international trade loss.

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Birkenstock files for U.S. IPO on NYSE under 'BIRK'