Footwear sources have welcomed the sale of Jones Bootmaker to private equity firm Endless, arguing that its new owners are more likely to give it the investment it needs.
Drapers understands Endless expressed interest in acquiring the footwear retailer back in 2015, before it was snapped up by rival private equity business Alteri.
A source close to the situation said Endless has a good track record of investing in its acquisitions.
“It’s not surprising that they came back to the table,” he added. “They have a longer term view than Alteri, who just wanted a quick turnaround. Endless seems to have more patience and that’s what Jones needs. It needs a three- to five-year turnaround programme.”
The source suggested thathe tnew owners should “invest heavily” in Jones’ stores and “expand the online opportunity” in the UK and abroad.
“Jones is an established British brand so it should do well overseas. I suspect they will look at expanding abroad, through franchise stores or flagships in key markets, once the business stabilises in the UK.”
Endless has completed more than 70 acquisitions and 45 sales of UK businesses since it was formed in 2005. This includes Marks & Spencer footwear supplier Peter Black, which it sold to a subsidiary of global sourcing firm Li & Fung in 2007, making a three times return on its investment.
“Although a lesser known private equity firm in the retail world than others, it seems legit and a better option for Jones than Alteri,” said another footwear industry source. ”They have had success with footwear in the past with Peter Black and they seem to have done a good job with turning around other businesses.”
He pointed, for example, to art retail chain The Works, which Endless acquired in 2009 and has successfully turned around.
KPMG was appointed administrator of Jones on 24 March. Later that day, Endless acquired 72 Jones stores in a pre-pack deal, securing around 840 jobs in the UK. The sale excluded 25 underperforming stores and six concessions, which closed immediately, resulting in 262 job losses.
The deal occurred two days after Jones’ former stablemate Brantano collapsed into administration, after a search for a buyer failed.