Client Story: Birkenstock in the Hills

Client Story: Birkenstock in the Hills

Birkenstock in the Hills originally opened in July 2003 in the historic German settlement town of Hahndorf.  Phil and Jackie Daniel have owned the store now for nine years and have been growing it steadily – in fact, sales have more than doubled in the past five years.

The company is a family-owned business employing eleven local people. The members of the team come from diverse backgrounds, each bringing with them particular strengths and expertise that, when combined, helps to make the store unique. Everyone on the team appreciates the well-made, supportive footwear brands that are the focus of the store’s inventory.

The store is located in a character-laden building that was originally constructed in 1880 and was once a blacksmith shop.

Key challenges and how they were dealt with

The first challenge the company faced early on was transferring from paper-based systems – including point-of-sale, inventory management and accounting – to computer-based systems. Doing this was essential in order to allow the business to go online, which initially happened in November 2014. Today, the online store accounts for half of all business.

“This year, COVID was initially stressful due to the uncertainty – especially when we had to close our store for the month of April,” says Phil. “We were quickly pleased and relieved to see online sales pick up most of the drop-off due to the store being closed.”

Fortunately, the business was eligible for the government’s JobKeeper scheme to help keep staff during the crisis.

“The assistance we received from Oreon Partners was invaluable in making that happen,” says Phil. “Their help working through the eligibility criteria and assisting in lodging the application, at a time when the legislation was still being finalised, was critical to us meeting the deadline.”

Keys to success

Phil states that one key to the company’s success is looking after their customers’ requirements in regard to their footwear.

“We have a lot of customers who have problems with their feet, and we spend a lot of time with them to find a shoe that really fits their foot,” he says.

“We’re also very diligent in answering all the enquiries that come in via email, web and phone. I think this attention to service earns customers’ loyalty – and with our vast selection of stock, this makes for happy customers.”

When asked what advice he would give to other business owners, Phil says, “Watch your costs closely and make sure you can control them quickly if circumstances change – which is necessary when a pandemic sneaks up on you! I’d also say, ‘embrace technology’, because it’s not going away.”

How Oreon has been involved in their success

The company initially began working with Oreon Partners in 2015. Oreon has assisted them with everything from annual taxation and insurance review needs to advice regarding business structure and estate planning.

“Oreon Partners has given us invaluable advice in regard to our financial situation, taxes and even business structure setup,” notes Phil.

“We have regular meetings with Jess, whereby she gives us an idea of how the business is travelling financially and that reassures and assists us when we’re making larger financial decisions. Also, they’ve helped us move to Xero, which has helped streamline our finances, and we plan to use the software in a more in-depth manner in the future,” he says.

The future of the business

The company has plans to launch a second website under their own brand, Sole Drifter, which will include many of the most popular shoe brands they carry. This will mean their current website,, can become an online store that’s just focused on the Birkenstock brand.

“We plan to remain one of Australia’s best places to shop for Birkenstocks, with one of the largest ranges of their footwear available in the country,” says Phil.