Dr Martens In Talks About Permira Takeover
Dr Martens, one of the most prominent names in British fashion, is in talks to sell itself to Permira, the private equity firm, Sky News can exclusively reveal.
R Griggs Group, the British family concern that owns Dr Martens, is in advanced negotiations about a deal that could be tied up as soon as next month, insiders said.
The price tag attached to the maker of the brand that became the signature footwear of a generation of punk music-lovers during the 1960s is unclear, although one source said it was likely to be on the verge of £300m.
Also uncertain is whether ownership of the Dr Martens name itself will change hands, with insiders suggesting that it will remain separate from the deal, and that Permira would effectively be acquiring a licence to use the name.
Headquartered in Northampton, R Griggs' primary asset is Dr Martens, which was founded by the family 60 years after they became established figures in the heartland of the UK's shoe-making industry.
According to the company's website, Bill Griggs, then the head of the business, was inspired to take control of Dr Martens after spotting a magazine advertisement placed by a German pair - Dr Maertens and his university friend Dr Funck - hunting overseas partners to invest in their new air-cushioned sole.
Initially sold as reliable footwear for working men, it moved into mainstream consciousness during the 1960s partly as a result of its adoption by iconic musicians including Pete Townshend, frontman of The Who.
Current celebrity afficionados of Dr Martens include the actress Drew Barrymore and controversial pop star Miley Cyrus.
The multi-coloured DMs created in recent years have become a familiar sight in school playgrounds, with almost half the brand's sales being generated in the US.
Permira, which has extensive experience of owning fashion brands, is one of the shareholders in New Look, the fashion chain, and Hugo Boss, the luxury fashion house.
It also previously owned Valentino, which was sold to an entity backed by members of Qatar's ruling elite.
The talks with R Griggs are being led by Cheryl Potter, the head of Permira's consumer team.
A source close to the deal said that it could yet falter, although they added that it had now gained the approval of Permira's investment committee.
The discussions mark the second attempt by the Griggs family to sell the brand in the space of two years.
An auction in early 2012, which drew the attention of other financial investors including Electra Partners and Pamplona Capital, was abandoned after buyers failed to meet the family's asking price.
Spokeswomen for Permira and R Griggs declined to comment.