The private equity backer of Dr Martens has picked two Wall Street giants to spearhead a blockbuster London listing of the renowned British footwear brand.
Sky News has learnt that Permira has appointed Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley to act as global coordinators on an initial public offering (IPO) being earmarked for next year.
The float, which would come more than seven years after the Griggs family sold Dr Martens for £300m, would herald the arrival of one of the most famous names in British fashion on the London stock market.
Dr Martens reported a stellar performance for its last full financial year, with underlying earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation nearly doubling in the 12 months to the end of March, although its results this year have been severely impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
Kenny Wilson, the company’s chief executive, said during the summer that despite the “volatile and uncertain trading environment, we have a very clear strategy in place supported by a strong brand and consumer connections, and I am confident in the outlook for the business”.
The valuation expected to be sought by Permira, and the size of any primary capital-raising, were unclear on Tuesday.
Sources said that a number of other banks had been appointed to work as bookrunners on the IPO.
An outright sale to another party is not completely out of the question, but a previous effort to explore such a deal did not yield sufficiently attractive or concrete offers.
Dr Martens, which traces its origins back to the Griggs family’s bootmaking exploits in Wollaston, Northamptonshire, in the early 20th Century, became internationally famous from the 1960s, when its durable boots were adopted by skinheads as an expression of working-class solidarity.
Although they have at times fallen out of fashion, the brand has staged a revival in recent years, and was sold by the Griggs family in October 2013 for £300m.
The company trades from more than 100 of its own stores, having opened 25 during the 2017-18 financial year.
It shifted production to the Far East in 2000 but moved it back to its original factory seven years later.
Last year, it said it would invest £2m in the Northamptonshire site and create a new visitor and heritage centre for DM devotees.
Dr Martens’ fortunes contrast with those of other venerable names in the footwear industry.
The family owners of Clarks are giving up majority control of the 195-year-old company as part of a financial restructuring that is expected to lead to 60 shop closures in the UK.
LionRock Capital, a Hong Kong-based investor, will become Clarks’ controlling shareholder if a company voluntary arrangement is approved.
Hotter Shoes, another English shoe manufacturer, is also expected to change hands next year, Sky News revealed last week.
Permira and Dr Martens declined to comment.