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Allbirds co-CEO says company plans to open 20 stores next year

Allbirds is planning to continue its brick-and-mortar expansion with 20 stores next year, the company’s co-founder and co-CEO Tim Brown said Monday.

“We’ve got nearly 15 stores at the moment — 14 soon to be 15,” Brown said. “We’ll add 20 stores next year. Many of them in the states — we’ve got some overseas in China and the U.K. and in New Zealand.”

The shoe company started as an online retailer out of Silicon Valley and began opening stores in only the last few years, allowing shoppers to try on the sneakers before purchasing them. The stores have helped create even more buzz about the wool sneakers, which the company touts as a environmentally sustainable approach to footwear.

“We’re hugely excited about the channel,” Brown said. “It’s a great opportunity for people to touch our product, to try our product.”

Online retailers like Allbirds, Warby Parker, Casper and Everlane have begun to encroach on the real estate left behind as established retailers, like Sears and J.C. Penney, scale back their footprints. These e-tailers are garnering followings through social media and pop-up shops.

Amazon was recently accused of copying one of Allbirds’ popular shoes, but Brown does not think competition like this will stop Allbirds’ growth as long as the company continues to focus on innovation.

“We’re in a competitive space in footwear but, look, there’s 20 billion pairs of shoes made a year on average and we’re still very tiny,” Brown said. “We’ve got enormous potential to grow and continue to grow, but to do that we’re going to have to continue to innovate and continue to be good. The retail expansion is part of it, as is international, but at the core for us, it’s about product and it’s about material innovation.”

Despite the company’s store expansion, an IPO may still be far off.

“It’s premature to be thinking about that,” Brown said. “One day down the road, possibly, but at the moment we’re focused on execution and growing our business in a really, really sustainable way.”

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