World Footwear


Dr. Martens might be on the verge of being sold

Apr 17, 2019 United Kingdom
Dr. Martens might be on the verge of being sold
According to several news reports, Permira is hiring bankers to oversee a review of its options for Dr. Martens, just six years after it purchased it from the founding Griggs family
Several UK media are reporting that private equity firm Permira is considering selling UK-based footwear brand Dr. Martens, six years after having acquired it. In alterative, the British brand might be on its way to the US stock market.

The group acquired Dr. Martens in 2013 in a deal reaching 300 million British pounds, adding it to a diverse portfolio of fashion labels, including Hugo Boss and New Look.

Dr. Martens has been growing steadily since it was acquired by Permira in 2013, with the company reporting in the year finished on the 31st of March 2018, total revenue growth of 20% totalling 348.6 million British pounds (roughly 400 million euros), while EBITDA rose by 33% to 50 million British pounds (approximately 58 million euros).

The history of the brand

Starting in 1901, the Griggs family were known for making boots in the small town of Wollaston, Northamptonshire in the English Midlands. They were at the very heart of the English shoe industry and for six decades Griggs’ footwear earned a solid reputation as sturdy, durable work boots. The story then switched to post-war Munich, 1945 and to Dr. Klaus Maertens, a 25-year-old soldier. While convalescing from a broken foot he created a unique air-cushioned sole (rather than the traditional hard leather sole) to aid his recovery. Using a salvaged cobbler’s last and a needle, Maertens made a prototype shoe and showed it to an old university friend and mechanical engineer, Dr. Herbert Funk. The two went into partnership by using disused military supplies to begin producing their unique shoes. By 1947 they began formal production and within a decade had a booming business, mostly selling to older women. In 1959, they decided it was time to advertise their revolutionary footwear invention in overseas magazines. Back in England, the Griggs company was now being run by the third generation of the family, Bill, along with brothers Ray, Colin and son Max. Whilst scanning the pages of a shoe trade magazine, Bill’s eye was caught by the German’s advert for their innovative air-cushioned sole. An exclusive license was acquired and a few key changes made, including an altered heel, a bulbous but simple upper, a distinctive yellow welt stitch, a two tone grooved sole edge and a unique sole pattern. The boots were branded as ‘Airwair’ and came complete with a black and yellow heel loop featuring the brand name and the slogan “With Bouncing Soles” (based on Bill Grigg’s own handwriting). Taking its name from date of its inception, on the 1st of April 1960, the eight-holed 1460 Dr. Martens boot had arrived to the market.

Photo by Joris Molenaar on Unsplash

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