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Toys 'R' Us and Ben Sherman owners join bid for Hunter Boot

Chloe Burney
31 March 2023

The companies behind Toys 'R' Us and Ben Sherman are reportedly among the rivals weighing up bids for Hunter Boot, the royal warrant-holding shoe brand.

According to Sky News, WHP Global, owner of Toys 'R' Us, and Marquee Brands, owner of Ben Sherman, have both expressed an interest in attemping to acquire Hunter. This news comes ahead of a bid deadline at the end of the week.

City sources say a Chinese digital commerce group which owns Gap's Greater China operations, is also among the interested parties.

Earlier this month, it was revealed that Authentic Brands Group, the owner of Reebok and Ted Baker, was among the companies to have expressed interest in the acquisition.

An auction of the business is taking place after Hunter secured a multimillion-pound funding lifeline to pave the way for its sale. The company is working with AlixPartners on the £7 million financing, which includes £5 million from existing shareholders and £2 million from lenders.

Hunter was saved in 2020 through a £16.5 million capital injection, part of which came from Pall Mall Legacy, a fund backed by existing shareholders Goldman Sachs and Three Hills Capital Partners.

Pall Mall Legacy owns the majority of Hunter's shares, alongside Searchlight Capital Partners, a private equity firm, and Speedo’s owner Pentland Group. 1856-founded Hunter, which was originally named North British Rubber Company, has seen a successful post-COVID sales rebound.

Hunter is one of only 10 companies to hold two royal warrants, one of which was issued by Queen Elizabeth II. However, the cancellation of live events and music festivals during the pandemic had a severe impact on Hunter, which has long been associated with celebrity festival-goers such as Kate Moss.

The company has closed its former flagship on London's Regent Street. The only remaining bricks-and-mortar stores are at outlets Bicester Village and Woodbury in New York.

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