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Gresham injects £21m into Hotter Shoes

Gresham Private Equity has taken a minority stake in British-made comfort footwear brand Hotter Shoes.

Hotter plans to double turnover from £38 million in the next four years by expanding its men's and women's ranges following the £21 million cash injection. It will also strengthen its management team, open a new manufacturing plant and invest in new IT systems as well as developing its export markets and retail outlets.

Hotter was founded in 1958 by managing director Stewart Houlgrave's father. The company has traded as Hotter Comfort Concept since the late 1990s. The company manufactures 30,000 pairs of shoes each week at its Lancashire headquarters and is one of the few remaining British footwear manufacturers.

Hotter, which targets the over 50's, has 300 independent accounts in the UK and shops in Southport, Chester, Bournemouth and Gretna. The company generates more than 70% of its sales via its mail order catalogues and internet site.

Houlgrave said: "By focusing on our brand values we have established a loyal customer base, however we recognise there is huge potential to develop the business further. Our strategy is to significantly expand our product ranges for both men and women in line with the lifestyle needs of the growing over 50's market."

Gresham's Andy Marsh who led the deal added: "We are delighted to be backing the management team of Hotter to grow the business. It is a niche brand focused on the affluent grey market where we can see existing growth potential. Also the business has real scalability through its direct marketing channels via mail order and the internet."

Ernst & Young advised Hotter on the deal.

Gresham also owns Speciality Retail Group which owns the Suits You high street chain.

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