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16.12.2021
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Location of the new EVA/PU center of excellence

BIRKENSTOCK intends to purchase a plot of land measuring 120,000 square meters in the Berlin-Szczecin industrial park. Investments of at least EUR 50 million in the first expansion phase – creation of 1,000 jobs in the medium term.

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Linz am Rhein/Pasewalk, 16 December 2021 – Decision in the search for a location for the new EVA/PU center of excellence points the way ahead: following the provisional conclusion of the extensive selection process, the Berlin-Szczecin industrial park (Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania) has good prospects of becoming the site for BIRKENSTOCK's pioneering lighthouse project. The new production site will involve investments of at least EUR 50 million during the first expansion phase. In view of BIRKENSTOCK’s strong growth worldwide, an expansion of the production site is already planned. In the medium term, up to 1,000 new jobs will be created at the new model site. The new EVA/PU center of excellence will thus not only be the largest investment project in the history of the German company, it will also be one of the largest industrial settlements in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania since the reunification. This would immediately make BIRKENSTOCK one of the largest private employers in the metropolitan region between Berlin and Szczecin.

BIRKENSTOCK’s preferred site is located in the area of the city of Pasewalk (in the district of Vorpommern-Greifswald). The company has already expressed its interest in purchasing a property measuring 120,000 square meters. At today's meeting, the large majority of city representatives approved the sale of this land to BIRKENSTOCK. A corresponding preliminary notarial agreement will be signed tomorrow morning. The final purchase is still subject to certain conditions, such as the granting of the necessary building and immission control permits. In view of the tight time frame resulting from the strong growth, BIRKENSTOCK is thus at the same time also continuing its talks with representatives of another potential location for the time being.

BIRKENSTOCK CEO Oliver Reichert: "I would like to thank everyone involved for their professional advice and for going along with our investment project with positivity. The new EVA/PU center of excellence is of paramount strategic importance for us as a brand. Our investments are not only a clear commitment to Germany as the home of our production, they are also an important investment in our future growth. That is why it is of utmost importance for the realization of the project in Pasewalk that we keep to the schedule we have agreed upon. I trust in the support and approval of all parties involved."


Production to start as early as the first quarter of 2023

BIRKENSTOCK intends to get things underway as soon as possible. If everything goes according to plan, construction will start as early as the second quarter of 2022 and production as early as the first quarter of 2023. In the new EVA/PU center of excellence, high-quality EVA and outdoor sandals will be produced. With regard to the new site, BIRKENSTOCK will set new standards in terms of innovation and sustainability, with a focus on emission avoidance, energy efficiency, the highest energy building standards, the use of renewable energies, recyclable and low-carbon building materials, and other measures, such as roof greening.


Pasewalk boasts ideal on-site conditions and large workforce potential

Essentially, there are three advantages that make Pasewalk particularly suitable as a location for the new production facility: firstly, the well-developed industrial park which still has lots of potential and sufficient room for further growth. Secondly, the convenient access to the A20 highway and rail transport. And thirdly, the workforce potential which, due to BIRKENSTOCK's strong growth, plays a key role as regards the choice of the new location. In the medium term, up to 1,000 jobs will be created at the new site. In the initial phase, BIRKENSTOCK plans to start with 400 employees. Another asset of Pasewalk is the broad political support: the city, district and federal state have promised to actively support BIRKENSTOCK in the realization of the project and to help implement the investment project according to plan.


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Manuela Schwesig, Minister President of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania: "We are very happy about BIRKENSTOCK's strong interest in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. And we would definitely like the company to move here. BIRKENSTOCK’s plans also stand for the success of our politics in Western Pomerania. The state strongly supported the development of the Berlin-Szczecin industrial park near Pasewalk. The BIRKENSTOCK site would be a great success for Western Pomerania and for the entire state."

Reinhard Meyer, Minister in the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Infrastructure, Tourism and Labor of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania "The purchase option for the site is a correct and strong signal for the potential settlement of a global company in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. It shows that, even during a pandemic, investments can be made. It is important that we all pull together to ensure the success of this project. Western Pomerania is an attractive economic region with a lot of potential. In the end, it's all about more value-added work and well-paid industrial jobs for our state. The purchase option is a first important step in this direction."

Dr. Till Backhaus, Minister of Agriculture of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania: "As the minister responsible for rural areas and climate protection, as well as for the approval process for the production site, I very much welcome Birkenstock's project. Together with the jobs it will bring with it, the project offers a good perspective for families in the region. As the minister for climate protection, I particularly welcome the fact that the company has incorporated the idea of sustainability and energy efficiency as a central part in its plans. This is an excellent example of the combination of value creation in rural areas and climate compatibility."

Michael Sack, District Administrator of the Vorpommern-Greifswald district: "Birkenstock's plans are good news, especially for the southern part of the district. It would be the third and by far the largest settlement in the Berlin-Szczecin industrial park. Birkenstock is a global player and an employer that also actively participates in public life at its production sites as part of the community. The project thus has my full support. We as the representatives of the district will do our part to ensure the project is implemented on schedule."

Sandra Nachtweih, Mayor of Pasewalk: "The prospect of the global lifestyle brand Birkenstock moving into the Berlin-Szczecin industrial park makes us proud and happy. Birkenstock would certainly not only boost the economic momentum here in the city and in the region, but also give many people living here in the metropolitan region new long-term employment prospects. That's why we're doing everything we can to support the project and are working hard to ensure that the schedule can be met."

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Görlitz is strengthened as the main production site for core products – investments in the amount of at least EUR 50 million

The decision was preceded by an extensive, multi-stage selection process in which around 60 possible locations were initially identified – all of them located in Germany, just like the other BIRKENSTOCK production sites. In a second step, two options were identified and are now on the shortlist – with Pasewalk as the preferred location. The search for a location for a new production site had become necessary because the main production site in Görlitz is reaching its limits both in terms of space and workforce potential, while BIRKENSTOCK continues to grow worldwide. For this reason, BIRKENSTOCK decided to refocus the site and concentrate completely on the manufacturing of core products, i.e. footbeds and cork-latex sandals. In this context, at least EUR 50 million will be invested in the strengthening and upgrading of the site. In this way, the production capacities for cork-latex sandals is increased by 50%.

At the same time, the manufacture of premium EVA and outdoor sandals, which was likewise based in Görlitz until now, will henceforth be pooled at a dedicated center of excellence. This step will result in a considerable expansion of production capacities from around 30 million pairs per year today to 40 to 50 million pairs per year.


Employment guarantee for all affected employees in Görlitz

In order to convince the employees in Görlitz who are directly affected by changes of their positive future prospects, the management of BIRKENSTOCK Productions Sachsen GmbH and the works council had in advance jointly agreed on a company agreement. The key pillars of this agreement are no redundancies among the employees affected by the changes, offers of continued employment in other areas in Görlitz with at least the same conditions, and qualifications and retraining for other equivalent work to fill vacancies or newly created jobs at the site. The message being sent is clear – the Görlitz site continues to have a great future ahead of it.


Preparations for strengthening the Görlitz site are in full swing

Meanwhile, preparations for strengthening and refocusing the main production site in Görlitz are already underway: A team is currently working on the new factory layout. The first orders for additional cork-latex systems and production lines have already been placed. The order for the footbed molds, in which the footbeds will be baked, will be placed in the next few days. The official approval procedures have also already been set in motion. Simultaneously, the planning for the adaptation of the traffic route, supply and infrastructure concept for the site has started. The works council is kept continuously informed of the progress of the plans.

In addition, the retraining measures for employees in the EVA/PU area are being prepared. In the new year, four additional positions are to be created in the quality department to focus exclusively on training the approximately 500 employees affected by the changes. This is because every employee who currently works in the EVA/PU area in Görlitz is to be offered an employment opportunity at the site in the then expanded cork-latex area, i.e. in footbed production and final assembly. Depending on the work process and prior qualification, the training phase usually lasts between six weeks and two months. Provided they are mobile and flexible, employees also have the option of moving to the new production site temporarily during the set-up phase or even permanently. In consultation with the works council, BIRKENSTOCK plans to offer mobility packages to these employees.

About BIRKENSTOCK

BIRKENSTOCK is a global lifestyle brand with a heritage in iconic footwear, rooted in the creation of the BIRKENSTOCK footbed. The brand that can be traced as far as 1774 is guided by the notion of quality and function in all its actions and across all categories. The concept of all-round wellbeing is developed into footwear, sleeping systems and natural cosmetics, increasingly translating the lifestyle vision of the brand heritage.

With around 5,500 employees worldwide, this traditional, sixth-generation family-run business is also one of the German footwear industry’s biggest employers. BIRKENSTOCK was already using the term “footbed” in the 1910s, giving it the meaning which is commonly understood by consumers all over the world to this day – as a synonym for outstanding comfort when walking and standing. By the early 1970s, BIRKENSTOCK had become a global player. Since 2021, the company is majority owned by L Catterton, the world's largest growth investor focused on the consumer goods industry, and Financière Agache, a holding company controlled by Agache, the holding company of the Arnault family.

Manufactured in Germany, the sandals are sold in more than 100 countries on all continents. BIRKENSTOCK also has a growing range of closed shoes, children’s shoes, and occupational footwear, as well as specialist products for orthopedic retailers, socks, bags, and belts. In 2017, BIRKENSTOCK added sleep systems and natural cosmetics (BIRKENSTOCK NATURAL SKIN CARE) to its portfolio of products. BIRKENSTOCK has 16 sites in Germany, in the states of North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate, Hesse, Bavaria, and Saxony. The long-standing enterprise also operates its own sales offices in the United States and Canada as well as in Brazil, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Denmark, Poland, Switzerland, Spain, the United Kingdom, France, Norway, Dubai and India.

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