An investment company owned by mining magnate Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest and his wife Nicola has bought iconic bootmaker RM Williams, returning it to Australian ownership.
The Adelaide-based outfitter, founded by bushman Reginald Murray Williams in 1932, had been in the hands of Louis Vuitton-backed private equity firm L Catterton.
It employs 400 people at its Salisbury workshop in Adelaide and another 500 across Australia.
“Nicola and I are incredibly proud and humbled to be able to bring RM Williams back under Australian ownership,” Mr Forrest said on Monday.
“RM Williams is a quintessential Aussie brand with a long and proud history of high-quality Australian craftsmanship.”
SA Premier Steven Marshall said in a social media post that the transaction “spells great news for local manufacturing and local jobs in SA”.
The bootmaker is one of South Australia’s flagship brands, counted among the most well-known businesses with deep roots in the state.
Australian Hollywood actor Hugh Jackman is the company’s global brand ambassador.
CEO Raju Vuppalapati said he was proud of the brand’s development under its current owners and excited about its future.
“I am delighted with the success we had with re-positioning the brand and delivering significant growth,” Ms Vuppalapati said.
“RM Williams’s brand is the strongest it has ever been in its 88-year history.”
He added that the 2019 decision to invest in a second line of boots, recruiting 100 extra staff for the Salisbury workshop, was an important milestone in the company’s growth.
The bootmaker had, however, announced the closure of all of its Australian stores due to coronavirus in March.
In April, it reportedly temporarily shut its Salisbury factory.
But the company has since reopened its 68 retail outlets in Australia, most of which are in Queensland and NSW.
It also has stores in London, New York City and Copenhagen.
RM Williams products ship to 13 countries around the globe.