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Backed by Roger Federer, On Running Eyes IPO

Running shoes are having their day in the sun, and now a “born in the Swiss Alps” footwear startup is looking to race into a hot IPO market.

Olivier Bernhard, David Allemann and Caspart Coppetti channeled their enthusiasm for pounding the pavement into On Running back in 2010. Nine years later, the performance-focused firm got a high-profile vote of confidence when Swiss tennis champ and 20-time Gland Slam winner Roger Federer decided to invest, elevate the brand’s profile and guide an expansion into the tennis category.

The On Running website says the company is based on the “radical” idea that running should involve “soft landings followed by explosive take-offs,” and experience it refers to as “running on clouds.” The company claims more than seven million consumers in 50-plus countries consume its products.

On Running is considering a U.S. stock market listing as early as autumn in a deal that would value the firm at $5 billion, according to Reuters, which first reported on the IPO plans and cited sources familiar with the go-public strategy.

A spokeswoman for On Running declined comment.

Investors have shown a strong appetite for fashion companies with attractive business models and products. Reports of On Running’s IPO plans come on the heels of fellow footwear darling Allbirds looking for a banker and other M&A talent to steer its foray into the public markets. Meanwhile, Mytheresa.com debuted in January and ThredUp followed with a March IPO. Dr. Martens floated on the London Stock Exchange in February.

Athleisure has long been a fashion favorite. Performance features are no longer solely for the athlete but for the weekend warrior as well, infiltrating even products like workwear. And footwear has followed the same pattern of evolution and democratization, especially as more consumers reach for athletic shoes in lieu of more traditional casual footwear styles.

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As interest in running and outdoor activities has grown, so too have been newer brands entering the ballooning market for running sneakers. Lenn Hann, a former marathon runner, started a Kickstarter campaign for Hann Shoes, a carbon fiber-suspension shoe that was inspired from a moving rubber walkway to help reduce pain and fatigue for runners and everyday people.

Asics recently launched two types of running shoes on the premise that “not all athletes run the same way.” One is built for “stride runners.”  The other is for the second major running style, “cadence” runners.

And French sporting goods firm Salomon has introduced a ready-to-recycle performance running shoe, a sneaker consisting of two parts, a polyester upper and a thermoplastic polyurethane bottom unit. Both can be recycled at the end of the sneaker’s life.

The global athletic footwear market is expected to reach $120 million by 2026, up from $98 million in 2019, market research firm Facts & Factors reported in March. Top manufacturers include Asics Corp., Nike Inc., Adidas AG, Pume SE, New Balance Inc., Skechers Inc. and Under Armour.