Iconic UK shoe retailer Clarks is reportedly the target of two suitors vying to take a stake in the troubled firm.

Hong Kong-based private equity firm LionRock Capital has entered the race to refinance the company, which could see the end of 200 years of majority family ownership.

LionRock is competing with retail investment specialists Alteri, Sky News reported, citing unnamed sources. The Hong-Kong company’s current portfolio includes Italian Serie A football club Internazionale of Milan and cab-hailing app Hailo.

Talks on a deal are expected to conclude in the next month. The report stated that any transaction was likely to see the Clark family retaining an equity stake in the business, although this could be below 50 percent, depending on the progress of the talks.

Clarks has reportedly been in talks on an equity stake sale with between £100 million (€109.34m-$127m) and £150 million (€164m-$190.5m) likely to be injected into the business as part of any deal.

The company posted a net loss of £83 million (€90.74m-$105m) in the year to Feb. 2, 2019, according to UK Companies House filings.

At the time it reported “significant footfall declines resulting in material shortfalls in retail channel performance in both the U.S. and U.K.”

The tough retail environment has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 lockdown with its 345 stores shuttered and staff placed on furlough under the government Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

Chief executive Giorgio Presca earlier this year unveiled a ”Made to Last” strategy which involved 900 job cuts.

A spokesperson told Shoe Intelligence the new plan “is designed to ensure that our business has a sustainable and successful future, keeping it in step with changes in how consumers around the world choose and buy their shoes.”

“As part of this strategy the Clarks board of directors is currently reviewing options to best position our business, our people and the Clarks brand for future long-term growth.”

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