Footwear suppliers have welcomed reports of an imminent sale of Jones Bootmaker and Brantano UK, following months of uncertainty.
London-based European retail investment fund Alteri Investors is reportedly in advanced talks to buy the two footwear chains from Dutch parent retail group Macintosh. One footwear source said the deal could be completed by early next week.
A supplier stocked in Jones Bootmaker said: “Jones is trading quite well at the moment even compared to bigger footwear players. The sale needs to go through soon so the team has closure.”
He added: “I don’t know much about the frontrunners [Alteri Investors], but there will be relief that Mike Ashley hasn’t got his hands on it. Both Jones and Brantano need some stability and I hope whoever buys it provides this.”
The boss of another brand stocked in Jones said he was “not thrilled” to hear that Alteri, a restructuring specialist, was tipped to take over the businesses and feared the worst: “If they close Jones there is no one to replace that business.”
He also indicated that Clarks, one of the biggest brands stocked in Brantano, could be a potential buyer, if only to protect one of its important wholesale accounts.
Drapers revealed Jones and Brantano UK were up for sale in March. In April, Macintosh appointed banking firm BNP Paribas to find a buyer for the two footwear firms, which it groups together as its Fashion UK arm. Brantano has 170 stores and concessions and Jones Bootmaker has 120 shops and concessions in the UK.
Macintosh confirmed it has received second-round offers for Jones and Brantano UK, which it said were at the “low end” of the range it originally expected. Based on these offers, it expects to make a loss of between €40m (£29.5m) and €50m (£36.9m) on the sale.