Royal warrant-holder Hunter Boot races to secure working capital

Hunter Boot, the royal warrant-holding footwear manufacturer, is racing to secure millions of pounds of working capital as it progresses parallel talks about a sale.

Sky News has learnt that Hunter's owners have received several proposals from parties including Gordon Brothers, a specialist in financing often-troubled retailers, to provide around £8m in financing to the business.

Sources said that several other proposals had been received as Hunter continues to hold talks with Wells Fargo, the American banking giant which is its existing principal lender.

One insider suggested that Hunter faced a funding crisis unless it could secure the new working capital in the near term, although a person close to the company insisted on Monday: "There isn't a scenario where the business runs out of money."

Hunter, whose boots have frequently been spotted on the feet of festival-going celebrities such as Kate Moss and the Princess of Wales, is working with AlixPartners on an accelerated sale process.

The company was saved in 2020 through a £16.5m capital injection, part of which came from Pall Mall Legacy, a fund backed by Goldman Sachs and Three Hills Capital Partners, an existing shareholder.

Pall Mall Legacy owns the majority of Hunter's shares, with Searchlight Capital Partners, a private equity firm, and Pentland Group, the sportswear giant behind brands such as Speedo, holding the remainder.

One source said that Hunter was "performing well and looking for working capital to fund growth running at around 20%".

"The majority shareholder, Pall Mall, is supportive and the business has already received multiple offers for additional asset-backed financing at attractive rates," they added.

"The sale process is happening in parallel and progressing well."

Hunter, which was founded in 1856 as the North British Rubber Company, is understood to have seen a post-COVID rebound in sales, with revenue in China accounting for a chunk of that recent growth.

Hunter is one of Britain's most prominent footwear brands, and is one of only 10 companies to hold two royal warrants - one of which was issued by Queen Elizabeth II.

The business registered record sales in 2018, but saw its US business experience sharp sales declines in the final quarter of last year before being hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The cancellation of live entertainment events and music festivals such as Glastonbury has had a particularly severe impact on Hunter, which has long-been associated with celebrities such as Kate Moss, the model.

Hunter was traditionally dominated by sales of Wellington boots, but has increasingly diversified into a broader array of lifestyle products.

It has exited its retail store portfolio such as its former flagship on London's Regent Street with the exception of a site at Bicester Village and Woodbury in New York.

A spokesman for Hunter declined to comment on Monday.