Investor Urges Dr. Martens to Consider Strategic Review, Potential Sale

An activist investor in boot brand Dr. Martens is pushing the company to move towards a strategic review and potential sale.

New York-based investment firm Marathon Partners Equity Management, LLC, which owns more than 5 million shares of Dr. Martens common stock, announced Tuesday that it recently sent a letter to Dr. Martens chairman Paul Mason and the board of directors urging the company to begin evaluating “alternatives for the business with the goal of maximizing shareholder value,” which includes a potential sale of the business, the letter read.

More from Footwear News

Since its IPO in 2021, shares of Dr. Martens have dropped almost 83 percent. Given the company’s stalled earnings progress and investor coolness, Marathon argued that Dr. Marten’s tenure as a public company is no longer serving shareholders in the most productive way.

“We believe that the Dr. Martens brand would produce higher earnings as a private company or, more likely, as a part of a larger, multi-brand holding company that could add further scale to operations, create new synergies and eliminate unnecessary overhead,” Mario Cibelli, Marathon Partners’ managing member, wrote in the letter.

Cibelli added that Dr. Martens’ heritage and relevance would make it an attractive target for interested parties and also praised Dr. Martens CEO Kenny Wilson as “an open-minded and talented executive.”

Cibelli told FN in an interview that Dr. Martens went public with a lofty valuation and guidance, which created issues for the company down the line.

“To some extent, a hangover has been created,” Cibelli said. He also acknowledged that it might not be the best environment for a brand looking to be sold — given a crowded marketplace and generally cautious consumer — but noted that Dr. Martens stands out as a rare, permanent brand.

“It’s never going away,” he said. “And I think it’s way more valuable in the hands of a multi-brand owner or a larger, more integrated footwear company.”

Prior to its IPO in 2021, Dr. Martens was acquired by private equity firm Permira in 2014. Permira, which owns Golden Goose, still owns a close to 40 percent stake in Dr. Martens. With whisperings of Golden Goose undergoing a sale process, Cibelli noted that Permira might want to avoid a similar process with Dr. Martens, which he sees as a potential conflict of interest.

Dr. Martens confirmed it received the letter, but declined to comment further.

In January, Dr. Martens reported revenues for third quarter that were down 21 percent to 267.1 million pounds (or $340 million). Wholesale revenues were down 49 percent, with declines across Americas and EMEA in line with guidance. In the Americas, sales were down 31 percent overall, with DTC revenues in the region declining double-digits. Wholesale revenues were halved from the prior year due to a weaker order book. In July, the company said improving its performance in the Americas would be a “No. 1 priority” for fiscal year 2024.

Best of Footwear News

Sign up for FN's Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.