Two Bidders Emerge for Family-Owned Clarks
The British parent of the iconic Desert Boot and Wallabee may have a new majority owner by October 31 that could end 195 years of controlling interest by the Clark Family. Two private equity firms, Hong Kong-based Lion Rock Capital and London-based Alteri Investors are the reported frontrunners for controlling interest in the firm that was founded in Somerset, England in 1825.
According to published reports out of the U.K., negotiations are ongoing on a potential restructuring that could infuse Clarks with upwards of $128-193 million and possibly see the Clark Family relinquish its majority ownership. The company is currently 84-percent-owned by the Clark Family with employees and institutions holding the remaining 16 percent, according to Wikipedia.
In May, the firm, formally known as C. & J. Clark International Ltd., announced a long-term strategy dubbed “Made to Last” that focuses on a sustainable and successful future for the company and floated the possibility of an equity sale.
No doubt, the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted Clark’s wholesale and own retail segments. Clarks America president Gary Champion told the Boston Globe earlier this month that the unit could slash its U.S. store base from 214 to “mid-100s” by the end of 2021 due to an overextension of its brick-and-mortar portfolio. Meanwhile, in its home U.K. market, Clarks operates approximately 350 doors and has reportedly furloughed thousands of store associates since the pandemic hit.