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Private equity sale likely for Jones Bootmaker and Brantano UK

Footwear industry insiders have said Jones Bootmaker and Brantano UK are likely to be snapped up by a private equity firm, after Dutch parent company Macintosh put the businesses up for sale last week.

Macintosh Retail Group is selling its UK division to raise capital to fund its core business in Europe, which includes Brantano Belgium, Scapino and Hoogenbosch Retail Group. It will appoint advisors for the sale in the next few weeks and the two UK chains will be sold as one business.

Sources told Drapers a private equity buyout is more likely than a trade sale, as footwear retailers in the UK “do not have the money” Macintosh is likely to ask for, although no price tag has been confirmed.

A source close to the situation said: “The most likely result will be an overseas investor buying it because they want to branch into the UK market, like Genesco did with Schuh. I would put my money on private equity.”

The source added: “They will want to sell [Jones and Brantano UK] as a whole, as Macintosh has spent a lot of money integrating the two businesses over the last two years.”

The country manager of one footwear brand agreed: “It’s only going to be venture capital money that buys it. Trade-wise the only one with the money to do it would be Mike Ashley [founder of Sports Direct], but there would be crossover with what his brands do so I can’t see that happening.”

Anusha Couttigane, fashion consultant at retail research firm Conlumino, said: “It would make sense for a private equity firm to get involved – one that could ensure the success of the brands as a standalone business, rather than seeking to integrate them with an existing portfolio.

“It’s hard to identify potential buyers among the footwear specialists. The player that most closely aligns with its proposition would be Clarks, but Clarks is focused on rationalising and recreating a profitable, streamlined business.”

Macintosh country managing director David Short told Drapers it will be “business as usual” at Jones Bootmaker and Brantano UK for the next nine to 12 months until the sale goes through. He emphasised the business is “not in distress”.

Honor Westnedge, lead retail analyst at research firm Verdict, said: “It is an attractive business in so far as it has a good brand name, but Brantano and Jones Bootmaker have struggled to differentiate themselves, so whoever buys it needs to work on that.

“Brantano is for a family shopper in an out-of-town location and they have come up against the likes of Primark and the supermarkets. It needs a clear strategy to strengthen its destination appeal. Footwear specialists are struggling against fashion retailers across the board.”

Jones Bootmaker has 120 stores and concessions across the UK, while Brantano has 170.

@jillgeoghegan

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