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Hotter Shoes owner confirms plans to expand into fashion after upcoming AIM relisting and group rebrand

Tom Shearsmith
10 January 2022

Hotter Shoes parent company Electra Private Equity has confirmed plans to expand the brand beyond footwear and enter the clothing market, as well as rename the company to Unbound Group.

Electra confirmed its intention to be renamed as Unbound Group PLC on the company's admission to AIM on 31 January 2022. The group will serve as "an online multi-brand retail platform supporting the lifestyles of the 55+ demographic".

First reported by last year, shareholders later approved the relisting and rename at a general meeting on 30 December 2021.

Unbound will be led by Ian Watson who is currently Chief Executive Officer of Hotter Shoes and will become Chief Executive Officer of Unbound Group PLC.

Unbound's expanded offering beyond footwear is expected to feature apparel, wellness and lifestyle products and services, with third-party complementary brands featuring alongside new Unbound brands, as well as Hotter.

Whilst continuing to develop Hotter's footwear offering for all consumers in its targeted age demographic, Unbound intends to leverage the customer database and scalable digital infrastructure of Hotter to support sales on the new Unbound platform of its own and third-party brands and products with related customer benefits to the same target demographic.

Initially targeted Unbound brand partners have been identified and commercial negotiations are in progress with multiple parties. First Unbound revenues from sales of products other than Hotter footwear can be expected in Q2 2022, with medium-term ambition to generate more than half of Unbound's profit from non-Hotter products.

Following a repositioning of the Hotter business from predominantly retail to predominantly online in 2021, Hotter now sells its footwear products to over 29% of the UK 55+ female population through its direct-to-consumer channels.

Ian Watson, Hotter Chief Executive Officer, Unbound Chief Executive designate, commented: "The creation of Unbound, and its admission to AIM, will be a significant milestone and we are excited about the opportunities ahead. We continue to gather excellent momentum with our new Unbound partnership strategy, and we are in early discussions with a number of potential partners.

"With our unique focus on our 55 plus customer base, underpinned by the strength of the Hotter brand and cultural and demographic tailwinds, we believe there is a significant growth opportunity for Unbound, and we look forward to creating long-term value for our existing and new shareholders."

Hotter has delivered strong growth in recent trading, with revenues rising 9% in November and December compared with the previous year. Gross margin continued to perform positively at 65.5%.

In November 2021, Hotter announced it is rolling out its "Retail 2.0 strategy" across its own stores, re-fitting existing retail outlets with seating areas with iPads and large touchscreen pods as well as bespoke shoe fitting technology and in-motion mapping tables.

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