In Spain they wore the Chiruca ankle boot -compact rubber sole, reddish hard canvas and rough suede- and they sang Kumbaya, my lord, Kumbaya while in England the Dr. Martens boot became fashionable with skinheads, proud to belong to the working class, in the 1960s; later they were put on by punks and a variety of countercultural movements that have been perpetuated to this day with footwear turned into a nonconformist icon. A chameleon boot that has been fused with different cultural and economic situations; they give off aesthetics contrary to moccasins and manolitas.
The covid-19 that gnaws at humanity is pardoning the Dr. Martens brand, as if it were immunized; It has temporarily closed its 130 stores, but continues to sell up through the networks. The boots have been rising in price for five years above the inflation of any country and profits increased 70% in 2018-19 (fiscal, from April 1 to March 31).
The boot has been in fashion for 60 years in England and Europe and is expanding rapidly throughout Asia. The Luxembourg-based investment company Permira, majority owner, put the “for sale” sign on it more than a year ago and a couple of weeks ago announced its listing on the London Stock Exchange where, in accordance with Company figures, indicators, buyers and potential have valued it at 3.7 billion pounds (4.4 billion euros), as announced by the Stock Exchange on Friday at the beginning of the trading of the shares.
Today about 10 million pairs of footwear are sold
Today, about 10 million pairs of footwear (boots and shoes) are sold per year in 60 countries at prices above one hundred euros, which is closer to a luxury product than to alternative consumption. In the last financial year 2019-20, just before the pandemic and the debacle of the Calle Mayor trade, the footwear brand had a turnover of 800 million euros that generated 112 million in profits. From the first model 1460, launched on April 1, 1960, a catalog of 250 different types of leather and gaucho boot or shoe with their own style has been passed.
The long history of boots has not always shined like the polish that polishes them. In 2002-2003, near bankruptcy, its then owner, the Griggs family, shoemakers since 1901 in Wollaston -the center of England- began the transfer of its production to Thailand, China and other Asian countries to make it cheaper. They left only 2% of manufacturing Made in England -Those are paid more, of course-. The firm’s spokesperson assures Public that “the production of the boots is made with the same quality everywhere because the materials used are the same and the designs are the same, so the geographical change does not affect quality”.
The third generation of the Griggs family acquired in 1959 the patent created by the German doctor Klaus Maertens and Herbert Funck who devised a comfortable shoe after the war using rubber from obsolete tires for the soles – which the Spanish vegetarian brand Slowers does today. -. The Griggs brothers (Bill, Ray and Collin) altered the patent with yellow stitches, aerated the soleplate and removed a vowel to make Maertens sound English. The first Dr. Martens boots model 1460 are reddish and generously ankle. The success of the English shoemakers with the patent of German origin was served thanks to countercultural movements and production in Asia until 2014.
The investment company Permira acquired in 2014 for 360 million euros from the sixth generation of Griggs the brand that has become almost English cultural heritage. To stay linked to the business and tied to such a beneficial umbilical cord, the Griggs kept 10% of the property that this week, with the revaluation on the stock market, has become 400 million euros. The lucky English family are not the only ones to benefit from the sudden revaluation of German-origin boots.
The distribution of private shares, converted into public, among the directors of Dr Martens has reopened the debate on instant billionaires or the so-called fat cats (fat cats) in the distribution of business assets. Nils Pratley, Financial Analyst at The Guardian, estimates that the IPO of Dr Martens will produce “some 50 instant billionaires.” The executive director of the brand, Kenny Wilson, does not reach three years in office, however, he has seen his share of the property converted to 70 million euros in the stock market. And from this one, even the executive with the smallest share package who will be equally graced by the revaluation of countercultural boots.
Permira, as the largest owner of Dr. Martens, nailed it with the 360 million it paid in 2014, which is multiplied today by ten, seven years later. However, his investments have not met the same fate in the AA roadside assistance company or in the private pension fund Just Retirement where your investment goes low.