Permira closes in on uncommon retail success

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In a rare example of a recent success in the beleaguered British retail market, the private equity group Permira is set to make at least three times its money from the sale of the iconic footwear company Dr Martens.

Permira is seeking at last £1bn from the sale of the company for which it paid a reported £300m in 2013. Dr Martens has trebled its profits under Permira’s ownership, helped by a strikingly successful international expansion, by the development of its online platform and price rises. Sales rose by 30% to £454m last year and sources talking a sharp rise in underlying EBITDA to £170m in the current financial year. It now has 109 stores globally and more than 75% of retail revenues come from outside the UK.

The sale is being handled by Goldman Sachs and Robert Baird and interest has been such that it seems that the company is prioritising a sale over the alternative option under active consideration of a float in the US. It is not known when the deadline for first-round bids will fall but no deal is expected until 2020.

Persistent rumour in recent weeks has identified Carlyle as having holding talks with Dr Martens about a bid but it said that the talks are still at an early stage. Neither Carlyle nor Dr Martens has been willing to confirm the report and it is not known who else is in competition with Carlyle.

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