American brand management company Authentic Brands Group (hereinafter referred to as "ABG") has completed the acquisition of the intellectual property rights of Hunter Boots (hereinafter referred to as "Hunter"), a century-old British rain boot manufacturer. The specific terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
There are rumors that the deal values Hunter at $125 million, which is close to the £100 million valuation cited by Sky News.
At the same time, ABG announced The Batra Group and Marc Fisher Footwear as the core partners of the Hunter brand in key geographic markets.
The Batra Group is a highly diversified global organization based in the UK with expertise in product development, design, sourcing, and distribution. Through this partnership, Batra will become Hunter's core licensor in the UK and continental Europe, responsible for the design and development of branded footwear, apparel, and accessories, as well as operating Hunter's branded retail stores, wholesale distribution, and e-commerce businesses in these geographic markets.
According to the agreement signed by ABG and Marc Fisher, a leading all-inclusive fashion shoe company, the latter will become Hunter's core shoe partner in the United States, responsible for the brand's local shoe design, wholesale, and e-commerce operations.
Jamie Salter, ABG Founder, Chairman, and CEO, said: "We are delighted to complete the acquisition of Hunter, a pioneer in original footwear and outdoor apparel at the intersection of fashion and the outdoors, and Hunter provides ABG's diverse lifestyle." The way brand portfolio introduces a new premium global brand. We are also excited to expand our relationship with two long-standing ABG partners, Batra Group and Marc Fisher, both of which have unrivaled expertise in product development across a range of categories. "We look forward to working with them and our larger network of partners as we continue to grow the Hunter brand."
ABG Group also plans to further utilize the existing global network to accelerate the expansion of the Hunter brand in major global markets, including the United States and Canada, Latin America, EMEA (Europe, Middle East, and Africa), and the Asia-Pacific region.
Hunter was founded in 1856, formerly known as the North British Rubber, initially producing tires, conveyor belts, golf balls, and other rubber products. Since its development, the company has gradually transformed into a rubber boot manufacturer, headquartered in Edinburgh, Scotland, with offices in London, New York, and Düsseldorf. As a traditional British brand, Hunter is the supplier of royal waterproof galoshes and one of ten companies currently holding two British royal warrants.
Hunter has traditionally focused on Wellington boots but has since diversified to include a wider range of lifestyle products. In 2014, the brand launched a ready-to-wear collection, which attracted many loyal customers.
In 2020, Hunter received an investment of 18.5 million pounds led by the Pall Mall Legacy Fund of Goldman Sachs (Goldman Sachs Group). Other participating parties included private equity investment company Searchlight Capital Partners and British brand management company Pentland Group. Following the investment, Pall Mall Legacy became Hunter's majority shareholder.
Under the impact of the epidemic, for example, due to the cancellation of large-scale offline public events such as the Glastonbury Music Festival, sales of the Hunter brand continued to decline. In the fourth quarter of 2021, the brand's sales in the United States fell sharply. It also closed its stores, including its flagship store on Regent Street in London, and only has offline stores in Borough Market and Woodbury, New York's largest outlet, almost completely withdrawing from physical retail.
However, after the epidemic, Hunter's sales rebounded, especially with the recovery of the Chinese market. China market revenue accounts for a large part of the brand's recent growth. Hunter's sales in China are doubling every year, with sales elsewhere in Asia showing strong growth, sources said.
In January of this year, the British "Sky News" quoted sources from insiders as saying that Hunter was looking for new investors and was working with AlixPartners, a New York consulting agency, to try to reach a deal. Reports in early February suggested that Hunter was seeking around £8 million in working capital to boost the business while advancing the sale process. The following March, existing shareholders provided Hunter with a £5 million capital injection, and lenders provided £2 million in funding.
In addition to ABG, two other American brand management companies, WHP Global and Marquee Brands, also participated in the bid for Hunter. Chinese e-commerce solutions provider Baozun E-Commerce, which owns Gap’s China operations, is said to have expressed interest in acquiring the company.