The iconic British boot brand Dr. Martens plans to float on the London Stock Exchange as it looks to expand its offering and drive e-commerce sales.
The company, whose boots and shoes were made famous in the punk era and are enjoying a resurgence in popularity today, expects an eventual free float of 25 percent of the business, with the potential to list another 15 percent, depending on demand.
The private equity group Permira, which bought the firm in 2013 for £300 million (€333m-$405m), will reduce its stake as part of the offering.
The company sells more than 11 million pairs of shoes and boots a year across 60 countries. It generated revenues of £672 million (€745.8m-$907m) in the year to March 2020, with earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (Ebitda) of £184 million (€204.2m-$248.3m). It also sells through more than 130 own-retail stores globally as well as concessions and through wholesale customers, distributors and franchisees.
Revenues rose by 18 percent to £318.2 million (€353m-$429.5m) in the six months to Sept. 30, while Ebitda grew by a third to £86.3 million (€95.7m- $116.4m).
“We have invested massively to ensure that we deliver the best digital and store experiences to connect with our wearers, and through this we are driving our long-term, sustainable growth,” said chief executive Kenny Wilson. “Even more important is the significant global growth potential for Dr. Martens in the future.”
Direct-to-consumer channels comprised 45 percent of revenues in 2020, up from 26 percent in 2015. This was driven by the e-commerce channel, which made up 20 percent of revenues in 2020, up from 7 percent in 2015.
“E-commerce enables the group to offer consumers an extended footwear range and provides a channel to communicate directly with wearers. It therefore reinforces the brand as a strong point-of-sale and enhances group profit margins given the profitability of the e-commerce business,” Dr. Martens said in a statement.
The firm said commissioned research had identified a potential market of 154 million consumers in the U.K., France, Italy, Germany, the United States, Japan and China who have similar attitudinal profiles as the 16 million consumers who have bought its footwear in those countries in the last 24 months.
Per-capita sales “highlight how underpenetrated Dr. Martens is in many large markets”, the company said. Citing China as an example, the company sold less than one pair of boots per 1,000 people in 2020, compared to 31 pairs per 1,000 inhabitants in the U.K.
The boot’s air-cushioned sole was developed by Munich-based Dr. Klaus Maertens and Dr. Herbert Funck. Originally sold as a work boot, it was popular among the skinhead youths of the 1960s and became synonymous with the punk movement in the 1970s. Northampton-based R Griggs bought patent rights to manufacture in 1960 before selling to Permira.
Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley are coordinating the initial public offering, with Barclays, HSBC, Merrill Lynch and RBC acting as joint bookrunners, if the offer proceeds. Lazard & Co has been appointed as financial advisor.