Royal warrant-holder Hunter Boot steps into new funding talks

Hunter Boot, the royal warrant-holding footwear brand, is on the march towards a fresh injection of funding nearly three years after it was rescued from the brink of oblivion.

Sky News understands that the owners of Hunter, whose boots have frequently been spotted on the feet of festival-going celebrities, have begun working with advisers on plans to secure new capital.

City sources said the company was using AlixPartners to run an accelerated sale process with the objective of securing a deal in the coming weeks.

Alternative outcomes if a transaction cannot be struck were unclear on Wednesday.

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.

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.

It was unclear how much new funding was being sought as part of the process being run by AlixPartners.

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

It 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 source close to the business said it was seeing sales in China double each year, with the rest of Asia also showing strong growth.