PE firm Electra buys UK's largest shoemaker Hotter

Private equity firm Electra Private Equity Plc is buying Hotter Shoes in a deal valuing the UK's largest shoe manufacturer at $327 million (£200 million).

Hotter ShoesHotter Shoes, run by the son of the founding family, Stewart Houlgrave, had early last year hired investment bank Rothschild to explore strategic options for the 55 year-old company.

Hotter Shoes, in which private equity group Gresham holds a £21 million minority stake, was founded in 1959 as Beaconsfield Footwear by Thomas and Harriet Houlgrave to manufacture slippers.

Since the 1950s, the Lancashire-based company has been making shoes and operates from one of the most advanced shoe making facilities in the world and sells over two million pairs of shoes each year in the UK and internationally.

Hotter Shoes operates a multi-channel route to market. In addition to its website and mail-order catalogues, Hotter trades through 57 standalone stores and 200 independent stores in the UK, whilst international sales are generated from the home shopping market in the US and through distribution partners.

The Telegraph newspaper said that  Stewart Houlgrave has been looking for funds to drive online and international sales.

Alex Fortescue, chief investment partner at Electra, said, "We have been tracking Hotter for several years and it epitomises what we look for in a buyout investment - a really strong UK headquartered business with not only a UK growth story but also proven international potential."

Stewart Houlgrave said, "Hotter is well placed for further growth. Electra Partners' support will be key in enabling the business to expand into new markets and grow its customer base, while at the same time continuing to meet the needs of its existing customers."