Wall Street firm to walk off with Dr Martens for £300million
Iconic boots maker Dr Martens is poised to fall into the clutches of one of Wall Street’s most powerful private equity firms for more than £300million.
KKR – the American former owner of pharmacy giant Boots –and US rival Carlyle, led by powerful dealmaker David Rubenstein, have been battling it out in the final stages of a sale of Dr Martens.
Sources last night said Carlyle had emerged as the frontrunner after KKR – immortalised in the best-selling book Barbarians At The Gate – appeared to have gone cold on the deal.
A pair of black women’s Dr Martens boots
Dr Martens were originally created by Klaus Martens, a German army doctor, and Herbert Funck in 1947.
They went into business together after Martens found that his original army issue boots were too uncomfortable following an injury.
He designed a new boot with soft leather and air-padded soles made of tyres.
Eventually, British shoe manufacturer Griggs bought the patents rights to make the boots in the United Kingdom.
The shoes became popular in the 1960s and early 1970s with ‘skinheads’ – working-class youths who favoured an aggressive look. Dr Martens later became popular in a variety of youthful sub-cultures, notably punk rock.
Permira, a London-based investment firm run by former City bankers, bought Dr Martens from the Griggs family in 2013.
Over the past 20 years, Dr Martens have become increasingly popular with women.
Its shoes have been worn by celebrities such as model Gigi Hadid, actress Emma Watson and singer Miley Cyrus.
Before the coronavirus shares turmoil, Permira had been weighing a float of Dr Martens, possibly on the US stockmarket.
Permira, KKR and Calrlyle all declined to comment.