Sep 25, 2020
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Clarks close to selling stake to LionRock or Alteri - report

Sep 25, 2020

Struggling UK footwear giant Clarks could be about to strike a deal to sell a stake to a private equity company, according to reports. And the sale could mean the end to more than two centuries of majority ownership by the founding Clark family.

Image: Sandra Halliday

A deal is expected to be struck within the next month with turnaround specialist Alteri Investors reported to be one of two potential buyers. Alteri was once an investor in Austin Reed and also formerly owned shoe chains Brantano and Jones Bootmaker.

Hong Kong-based LionRock Capital, which isn't known for fashion investments, is the other remaining bidder for the company, according to a Sky News report.

While the Clark family is likely to retain a holding in the company, sources have suggested that it could be less than 50%, meaning it will be the first time since the company was founded in 1825 that the family won't be majority owners. 

The company has been seeking a buyer since the spring and is reportedly looking for between £100 million and £150 million to be injected into the business as part of any deal. 

Clarks has struggled in recent years. The last year for which we have results saw it making a net loss of more than £80 million and it said at the time that a number of its 345 shops were a drain on its operations. But the coronavirus crisis since then has added to its problems with footwear having been one of the weakest fashion sectors during the UK's lockdown. 

The company furloughed a large number of its workers during lockdown but has denied that it will follow other major retailers and explore a company voluntary arrangement.

Prior to the pandemic, the firm implemented a turnaround programme that’s still under way.

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