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Dr Martens treads towards London flotation but valuation is unclear | Business News

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Kenny Wilson, CEO, Dr Martens

The British footwear brand Dr Martens has confirmed plans for a London flotation that will see its private equity owner sell down its stake.

The company, sold by the Griggs family in 2014 for £300m, said the stock market listing being considered would consist of a sale of shares held by Permira and some other existing investors.

Sky News revealed in November that Wall Street banks Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley had been appointed global coordinators of the blockbuster flotation.

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Kenny Wilson, CEO of Dr Martens

Previous efforts to sell the business failed to attract offers that reached Permira’s valuation.

The brand has flourished under its control, reporting an average 20% to 30% revenue growth in recent years.

Dr Martens, whose boots have had spells in and out of fashion since they first went on sale in 1960, reported revenues of £672m in the year ending 31 March 2020 in its latest revival.

Sales were 18% up in the following six months to September despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It sells in excess of 11 million pairs of footwear annually in more than 60 countries.

Under the plans revealed on Monday, there would be no sale of new shares in the IPO and there would be a free float of at least 25%.

That means at least a quarter of the company’s shares would be in the hands of public investors following the listing.

The potential value being sought was not disclosed.

Dr Martens currently has 130 stores and is aiming to expand its own retail operations as a large proportion of sales are made through concessions.

Kenny Wilson, its chief executive, wrote: “The announcement of our intention to float reflects the great achievements of the Dr Martens team and brand over the last seven years.

“Our iconic brand appeals to a diverse range of consumers around the world who wear our footwear to express their individual style.

“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.”

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COVID-19: Saga says cruise customers will need vaccines before boarding | Business News

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Over-50s holiday and insurance specialist Saga is to require customers to be fully vaccinated before boarding cruises, the company has announced.

It also said it had pushed back the restart date for its travel business from April to May – to allow customers time to receive the jab.

Holidaymakers will have to be vaccinated at least 14 days before travelling and also take a pre-departure COVID test according to the Financial Times, which first reported Saga’s announcement.

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Holiday operators have seen a spike in demand from older customers

The company’s position is in contrast with that of tour operator TUI.

TUI’s chief executive Fritz Joussen has rejected the idea of turning away customers who do not have the vaccine.

Elsewhere, the boss of Qantas – based in Australia, which has some of the world’s toughest travel restrictions – has said it would insist in future that international travellers have a jab before they fly.

Last week it emerged that holiday firms had seen a spike in bookings from older people planning long-awaited trips as the coronavirus vaccine is rolled out.

Operators said they were seeing demand for breaks both home and abroad, partly to make up for holiday plans not fulfilled last year.

Many firms in the travel and hospitality sector are on their knees after coronavirus restrictions crushed demand – and thousands of jobs have gone.

A number of cruise ships were caught up in the early stages of the coronavirus crisis, resulting in quarantines and in some cases a number of deaths.

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Shake-up of further education in England to focus on needs of businesses | Business News

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A planned shake-up of further education and training in England will tie courses to the needs of employers in local communities, under government plans.

The Department for Education (DfE) said the Skills for Jobs White Paper, broadly welcomed by business groups, aims to put an end to the misconception that a degree is the only route to a rewarding career.

It demands that the existing links between post-16 colleges and employers are bolstered to develop tailored plans to meet local skills needs – replacing the current ‘one size fits all’ approach.

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It is hoped that further education can help drive skills to meet the UK’s climate goals and wider innovation

This would be done with support from a £65m Strategic Development Fund, the government said, alongside improved oversight to ensure training is relevant to the demands of companies.

The White Paper also plans to allow people of any age access to flexible student finance from 2025 and seeks to bolster the numbers of technical education specialists through a recruitment campaign.

However, a union for school and further education heads warned the proposals had to be backed up with some serious investment after years of “severe under-funding” of the post-16 education sector.

The plans build on Boris Johnson’s Lifetime Skills Guarantee, revealed last autumn.

A £2.5bn scheme already announced promises to give adults without an A-level or equivalent qualification the chance to take a free vocational college course.

It is due to get underway in April as the economy looks to recover from the effects of the coronavirus crisis and build a new post-Brexit future, with green energy and wider technology among the areas deemed critical.

The government’s separate Plan for Jobs has, since August last year, offered financial incentives to employers for each apprentice they take on under the age of 25 as part of the COVID fightback.

The scheme offers six-month paid work placements for 16-24 year-olds
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Young people are being encouraged to take up apprenticeships under the Plan for Jobs

But, despite the furlough scheme, it is predicted that the worst is far from over for employment prospects given continuing lockdowns and their effects on education.

The PM said of the latest announcement: “Our Lifetime Skills Guarantee means that everyone will be given the chance to get the skills they need, right from the very start of their career.

“In the years ahead, the reforms we have announced today will deliver high quality technical education across the country – and help people retrain and secure better paid jobs.”

The director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, Adam Marshall, said a partnership was crucial if good jobs were to be created.

He said: “We welcome these ambitious plans to put the skills needs of businesses at the heart of the further education system.

“As local business leaders look to rebuild their firms and communities in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, it is essential to ensure that the right skills and training provision is in place to support growth.”

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, responded: “We continue to be concerned about the severe underfunding of the post-16 sector, which plays such a vital role in delivering
the technical and vocational education that the government says it is so keen to boost, as well as academic routes which are also of the utmost importance.”

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‘Strong smell of cannabis’ near Bank of England leads to drugs factory | Business News

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'Strong smell of cannabis' near Bank of England leads to drugs factory | Business News

More than 800 plants have been seized after a tip-off about a “strong smell of cannabis” led to a raid on a building close to the Bank of England.

City of London Police said it was the first find of its kind in the financial district – currently largely deserted because of the COVID-19 crisis.

A statement said: “This is the first cannabis factory in the City, no doubt being set up in response to fewer people being out and about during the pandemic who might have noticed any unusual activity.

A total of 826 cannabis plants were found and destroyed a week ago, it added, though there was no information on exactly where the raid took place.

Two suspects were arrested.

News of the police operation drew attention from Bank of England governor, Andrew Bailey.

He told an online event hosted by the Bank on Wednesday: “We are now going to be the subject of endless jokes about now we know what the Bank of England has been on.

“I’m sure there will be many other jokes. It is very quiet around the Bank of England, I should say.”

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