Allbirds raises $100M despite pandemic

Article courtesy of RetailDive here

Allbirds on Monday announced a $100 million Series E funding round, led by Franklin Templeton, according to a press release emailed to Retail Dive. Other participants included T. Rowe Price, Baillie Gifford, TDM Growth Partners and Rockefeller Capital Management, among others.

  • The DTC shoe brand plans to use the capital to launch in new product categories, and fund the expansion of its brick-and-mortar stores and its international business. The retailer currently has 21 stores globally.

  • Allbirds' latest funding round brings the total capital raised since its launch in March 2016 to $200 million.

While many retailers are tightening their belts, Allbirds joins the small list of coronavirus winners, managing to lock in $100 million of financing during a chaotic year.

The sustainable shoe brand is aware of that distinction, noting in a press release that "the size of Allbirds's Series E is an indication of investors' continued enthusiasm for its stakeholder-centric business model that produces products that are better for consumers and the environment."

The company's plans for its capital will extend a strategy that has been in place for years. Already, the brand has expanded beyond its initial shoe, introducing several different styles, including a performance running shoe in April and making its first-ever product outside of shoe market in 2019.

"From the beginning, we'd always imagined the brand as being bigger than just the one sneaker that we sold," co-founder Tim Brown told Retail Dive last year. "I think if we hadn't, we would have called this thing 'Woolies' and just sort of called it a day."

Now, with more capital at hand, the DTC brand is looking at additional category expansion and doubling down on brick-and-mortar growth. As proof of concept, the retailer said in its release that its performance running shoe was the best product launch to date and that the international business is exceeding expectations.

Allbirds wove sustainability into its announcement, highlighting that the new funding will help it to maintain an "unwavering commitment to sustainable material innovation." The company has previously called out copycats, including Amazon, for failing to also mimic its commitment to the environment, and used store openings to talk about broader environmental issues instead of its business.

"Business can be a force for positive change, and this additional capital will allow us to further our mission of bringing more sustainable products to people around the world," Allbirds co-founder and co-CEO Joey Zwillinger said in a statement. "We have seen the power of collective action in response to the global pandemic and, as we continue to grow, we will push for a similar united response to another universal threat: climate change."