BERLIN - German sandal maker Birkenstock on Monday set a price for its initial public offering of shares at $44 to $49 each, which could see the company raise up to $1.58 billion.
Around 32.2 million ordinary shares will be put on the New York Stock Exchange in the IPO that would value the iconic footwear brand at up to 9.2 billion euros ($9.7 billion), according to a regulatory filing.
Once unflatteringly associated with sock-and-sandal-wearing Germans, Birkenstock has since become a coveted fashion item, as illustrated in the latest Hollywood blockbuster "Barbie".
The stock flotation marks a milestone for the company founded in 1774 to make orthopaedic shoes. By 1897, Konrad Birkenstock had made the first flexible sole fitting the contours of the feet.
The company remained in family hands of the founding family until 2021, when it sold a majority stake to private equity group L Catterton and the family holding fund of French luxury magnate Bernard Arnault.
But the sandals, with their broad straps and cork and latex soles, had begun to gain international acclaim well before that.
- Hollywood and catwalks -
Brought to the United States in the 1960s, the sandals were quickly adopted by hippies who took to their no-frills comfort and claimed their utilitarian look as an anti-fashion badge.
But it was when supermodel Kate Moss donned them for a fashion shoot in 1990s that the sandals were propelled into standard footwear for A-listers.
Brands from Paco Rabanne and Valentino to Celine have customised their versions of Birkenstocks, even putting them on runways.
Actress Frances McDormand padded on stage at the Oscars in February 2019 in a yellow pair -- vindicating the idea that footwear does not need to be painful to be glamourous.
With hippies and stars alike making up its customers, Birkenstock recorded revenues of 1.11 billion euros ($1.17 billion) for the nine months ending June 30, up 21 percent from the same period a year earlier.
Net profit for the nine months was 129.1 million euros, down 20 percent from 103.3 million euros a year ago.
While other companies have shifted production to places where labour is generally cheaper, such as Asia, Birkenstock says 95 percent of its products are assembled in Germany.
Headquartered in the picturesque city of Linz am Rhein in western Germany, the company has several manufacturing sites in the country, and around 6,200 employees worldwide.
According to industry media reports, the IPO could take place on October 11.