Iconic Australian bootmaker R M Williams has been put up for sale, with the private equity firm backed by the owners of Louis Vuitton looking to offload the company for as much as A$500 million ($527m). The Singapore-based L Catterton Asia has brought in investment bank Goldman Sachs to look for buyers and run an auction for the Adelaide-based company later this year, sources confirmed.
R M Williams has been a mainstay of rural fashion since its foundation in 1932, and in recent years has been positioning itself as a luxury shoe brand for “townies” in Australia and New Zealand and further afield. R M Williams sales have been growing thanks to that global push, coming in at A$142 million last financial year. That was up from A$126 million in 2017, A$119 million in 2016 and A$124 million in 2015, documents filed with the corporate regulator show. The company has about 50 retail shopfronts, including outlets in New York, London, New Zealand and Scandinavia, and its boots are stocked in about 500 department stores.
The company’s owners are looking to fetch between A$400 million and A$500 million for the company, sources said.
L Catterton is a consumer-brand focused private equity investor backed by LVMH Moët Hennessy – the French luxury goods conglomerate that owns the brands Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior, Givenchy, and the famous Moët Hennessy Champagne house.
L Catterton bought a 49.9 per cent stake in R M Williams from then-owner, former News Corp Australia boss Ken Cowley, in 2013.