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Clarks is target for private equity firms, ex-Triumph chief to become MD

Published
Jul 13, 2020
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As venerable footwear retailer Clarks seeks new funding, a number of private equity companies are reportedly keen to take a stake in the company.


Image: Sandra Halliday



OpCapita, which previously owned the Comet electrical goods chain, is among them, a news report said. US-based buyout firm Sycamore Partners is another interested potential bidder, according to Sky News.

Sycamore’s biggest fashion industry link recently never actually happened after the company agreed to take control of Victoria's Secret but backed out of the deal when the coronavirus crisis began. But it clearly still sees value in Clarks, despite the pandemic.

Sky also said that at least one other party is believed to be in talks with Clarks about a deal.

The company has struggled for some time and the pandemic was a catalyst for taking urgent action with revelations in May that the firm was in discussions to sell a stake that would reduce the founding family’s holdings.

Any deal is expected to generate around £100 million to £150 million to invest in the business that has survived for around two centuries so far, having been founded in 1825. If it’s to make it through a third century, still-new CEO Giorgio Presca wants to drive through major change, including the closure of unprofitable stores.

His Made To Last strategy will include the loss of 900 jobs, although 200 news ones will be added.

Sky News also said that Suzanne McKenna, a former head of intimates brand Triumph, is joining as MD of the firm's own-brand Clarks unit next month.

She’ll join after the new strategy also saw the firm organising itself via three business units, one of which is the Clarks operation. The others are Clarks Originals and Collection by Clarks/Cloudsteppers by Clarks.

The company is also involved with as many as three accountancy firms as it restructures, with KPMG advising the family shareholders, Deloitte working with the management team and PwC taken on by a syndicate of its lenders.

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