Dr. Martens Is Hatching Plans for IPO on the London Stock Exchange

Britain may be in lockdown, but that hasn’t stopped bankers and brands from building businesses, and looking to raise money on the public markets. The British footwear brand Dr. Martens is one of them, with plans to launch an initial public offering on the London Stock Exchange.

The company said Monday it plans to publish a registration document today, laying out its plans for an IPO, and an eventual free float of 25 percent of its share capital, with potential for an additional 15 percent of shares to hit the public market, depending on demand.

Dr. Martens is owned by IngreLux, a Luxembourg-based company owned by funds advised by Permira. Since buying the footwear brand in 2014, the owners said they made “significant investments in professionalizing the business, improving its operational backbone and capabilities,” shifting its focus to emphasize the direct-to-consumer channel, and allowing it to grow rapidly, delivering a strong and improving financial profile in recent years.

The company said the e-commerce channel has been one of the key contributors to Dr. Martens’ “substantial growth,” and is expected to continue to be the main driver of growth in the coming years.

The group also sells its footwear through more than 130 own retail stores, which act as “profitable and important consumer touchpoints.” It also has concessions, wholesale customers, distributors and franchisees.

In the twelve months ended March 31, 2020 Dr. Martens generated revenue of 672.2 million pounds and EBITDA of 184.5 million pounds. Revenue grew 18 percent year-on-year to 318.2 million pounds in the six months ended Sept. 30, 2020, while EBITDA was 86.3 million pounds for the same period, growing 30 percent year-on-year.

Kenny Wilson, chief executive of Dr. Martens, and formerly brand president of Europe for Levi’s, said the plans for an IPO “reflect the great achievements of the Dr. Martens team and brand over the last seven years. Even more important is the significant global growth potential for Dr. Martens in the future. We have invested massively to ensure that we deliver the best digital and store experiences to connect with our wearers, and through this we are driving our long-term, sustainable growth.”

Dr. Martens said that over the past years, it has built an “integrated global supply chain” so the business can scale sustainably across geographies and channels, in addition to reducing costs. The group said it has a “significant opportunity” to expand in the 341 billion pounds global footwear market, and added it already has a strong customer base in the U.K., France, Italy, Germany, United States, Japan and China.

The product has long had a democratic, unisex appeal. Although the brand is most often associated with punk and counter-culture movements, the boots are best-known today for comfort, durability and a tough-chic appeal.

The late Pope John Paul II wore the cushion-soled work boots and, at one point, ordered 100 pairs for his Vatican staff, including a pair of white brogues for himself. The Dalai Lama and Madonna are among the celebrities who have also famously worn Dr. Martens.

The shoes are displayed in collections and exhibitions of cultural institutions such as the Victoria and Albert Museum and MoMA. The most famous style is the 1460, which was created 60 years ago was FN’s Shoe of the Year in 2019. It has a trademark yellow welt stitch, grooved sole and black and yellow heel loop.

The company said the 1460 and the similar 1461 style are part of the brand’s Originals category and generated 60 percent of the group’s revenue in fiscal 2020. Prices for the 1460 range from 150 pounds to 190 pounds.

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