Dr Martens bounces towards new ownership

THE family-owned maker of the boots and shoes favoured by punks, goths and skinheads is being put up for sale, it was reported yesterday.

The owners of R Griggs, which has been making Dr Martens for more than 50 years, are expected to “fill their boots” after appointing investment bank Rothschild to test the market for buyers.

The company has enjoyed a remarkable resurgence since hitting the doldrums ten years ago. Last year, R Griggs made a hefty pre-tax profit of £15.3 million, up from £5m the previous year. Sales also grew to £110.2m from £82.9m as the group continued to open stores in the US, which accounts for 42 per cent of sales, and grew more-profitable sales in Asia.

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The UK shoemaker is run by Max Griggs, whose father, Reginald, bought the rights to Dr Martens from its German owners after the Second World War. The boots were originally designed by Dr Klaus Maertens, who invented an air-cushioned sole using abandoned rubber from Luftwaffe airfields.

The first eight-eyelet boot – with its distinctive yellow welt stitching and famous black and yellow heel loop – entered production in the UK in 1960.

The boot was developed for factory workers, beat bobbies and postmen and became popular among skinheads. Bands including The Clash, The Who and The Sex Pistols adopted them. More recently, fashion designers including Jimmy Choo, Vivienne Westwood and Orla Kiely have “reinterpreted” the original.

A downturn in 2000 saw the British manufacturer move production to China and Thailand. But R Griggs reopened the brand’s original factory at Wollaston, in Northamptonshire, in 2007 to produce vintage styles.