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LionRock Capital completes purchase of majority stake in Clarks and names new CEO

Lauretta Roberts
15 March 2021

LionRock Capital has completed its £100 million purchase of a majority stake in British heritage footwear brand Clarks and has appointed a new executive chairman and CEO.

The Hong Kong-based private equity house confirmed its intention to buy the stake in November of last year. Following the completion of the deal, announced today, it has named Victor Herrero as Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer replacing former CEO Giorgio Presca.

Herrero had been a non-executive director at Clarks and was previously CEO and Director of Guess? Inc. between 2015 and 2019. Prior to that, he spent more than 12 years at Inditex, the parent company of Zara, holding several senior executive roles, where most recently he was Head of Asia Pacific and Managing Director of China.

Presca had joined Clarks as CEO in early 2019 and had previously been CEO at footwear brands Golden Goose Deluxe and Geox. He was reported to be leaving the 195-year-old business last month along with chief commercial officer Massimo Barzaghi and chief people officer Difna Blamey. In a statement LionRock thanked Presca for his service.

Daniel Tseung, Founder and Managing Director of LionRock Capital, said: “We are extremely pleased to formalise our partnership with Clarks. Clarks is one of the world's most recognised consumer names and we look forward to working with the Clark family and Clarks’ leadership team to build on its tradition of providing customers around the world with top quality products and exceptional service.”

Herrero added: “I echo the Board in thanking Giorgio for his much-valued contribution to Clarks over the last two years. I am excited about leading Clarks to its next level and partnering with LionRock Capital and the Clark family to build a strong and sustainable future for this iconic and much-loved global brand.”

The deal means the founding Clark family has ceded majority control in the business for the first time in its history. A condition of LionRock going ahead with the deal was the securing of CVA deal with creditors, which was approved last November.

At the time it was revealed that while all 320 Clarks stores would remain open and no staff laid off, the deal would enable the business to pay zero rent on a number of its stores for a period time, while others would switch to turnover-based deals.

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