BIDDERS CIRCLE AROUND FOOTWEAR BRAND

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Can the boots once loved by equestrians make a come-back?

Potential buyers for Hunter - the Wellington boots label formerly worn by nearly every equestrian - were bidding for the brand last week. 

WHP Global, which owns the toy retailer Toys R Us, and outfitter Ben Sharman’s owner Marquee Brands were leading the pack, according to financial media. 

Reebok and the digital commerce group Baozun, which is associated with fashion retailer Gap, were also said to be interested in the Hunter label favoured recently by ex-supermodel Kate Moss 

Hunter, which holds two Royal Warrants, was reportedly hit particularly hard when Covid cancelled many music festivals in 2020 and 2021. 

Earlier this year, the troubled brand received a £7 million cash injection from shareholders and lenders. 

That followed a rescue in 2020 via a £16.5 million capital injection from majority shareholder Pall Mall Legacy and existing investor Three Hills Capital Partners.

Hunter’s other investors are Searchlight Capital Partners, a private equity firm, and Pentland Group – the company behind sportswear brands such as Speedo.

These various owners took on the Hunter brand in 2006 after The Hunter Rubber Company went into administration. Production was moved from the UK to Asia in 2008.

Hunter was originally founded in 1856 as the North British Rubber Company. 

It remains to be seen whether the brand can find its way back onto the feet of a new generation of equestrians. 

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