Footwear firm in £200m buyout deal


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A footwear business which sells more than two million pairs of shoes a year has been bought by a private equity firm in a deal worth £200 million.

Lancashire-based Hotter Shoes, which specialises in comfortable footwear, dates back to 1959 when it was established as a slipper manufacturer.

It now employs 1,000 people and its site at Skelmersdale boasts one of the most advanced footwear making facilities in the world, producing a pair of hand-finished shoes every 20 seconds.

Stewart Houlgrave, whose parents set up the business, will continue to hold a share of the business after the acquisition by Electra Partners from another private equity firm, Gresham.

The previous owner bought a minority stake in 2007 through a management buyout for around £21 million before extending the estate from five stores to more than 50. It also operates from 200 independent stores and internationally through the home shopping market in the United States.

Sales have more than doubled in the last four years and in 2012 Hotter reported a 9% jump in revenues to £74.9 million.

Gresham said Hotter was now the UK's biggest shoe manufacturer and one of the country's leading footwear brands.

Andy Marsh, a partner at Gresham, said: "When we invested in Hotter, we had the firm belief the company could significantly develop within what is a growing and niche segment of the retail market."

Electra paid £85 million for its majority stake and the deal was supported by debt from Lloyds Banking Group and HSBC.

The company will continue to be led by chief executive Peter Taylor.

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