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Dr. Martens owner picks Lazard for UK float in early 2021 - sources

LONDON, Sept 11 (Reuters) - The private equity owner of Dr. Martens has hired Lazard to prepare a stock market listing of the British boot brand, known for its yellow stitching and a youth culture staple, two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.

Permira, which bought Dr. Martens in 2014 for 380 million euros ($449.46 million), is looking at a London listing early next year and has asked Lazard to handle the preparation work for the 73-year-old firm, the sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity as the matter is private.

The London-based buyout fund, which is currently working to list Polish auction website Allegro, may also decide to resume negotiations with Carlyle, the sources said.

U.S. private equity firm Carlyle initially expressed interest in buying Dr. Martens early this year before the coronavirus pandemic brought business to a halt, the sources said.

Carlyle - which flipped its luxury sneaker brand Golden Goose to Permira in February - remains keen to expand in footwear and would still consider a possible purchase of Dr. Martens, one of the sources said, cautioning that no deal is certain.

“Any deal would only happen next year,” he said.

Permira and Carlyle declined to comment while Lazard was not immediately available.

Dr. Martens has been an evergreen symbol of working-class pride and rebellious attitude, which makes it resilient to fashion cycles and passing trends.

Since taking control Permira has increased its global presence, reporting an average 20% to 30% percent revenue growth in recent years and making the slowdown caused by the coronavirus crisis more digestible.

Group revenue rose 30% to 454.4 million pounds in the financial year ending in March 2019, from 348.6 million pounds in 2018, while core earnings were up 70% percent to 85 million pounds.

“The business has weathered the coronavirus storm really well,” one of the sources said.

Founded in 1947, Dr. Martens suffered a downturn at the start of the millennium and came close to bankruptcy in 2003 when manufacturing was shifted to China and more than 1,000 jobs were axed in Britain.

Permira has invested in expanding the company’s e-commerce offering, which remains one of Dr. Martens’ strongest growth areas, representing 16% of total revenue.

$1 = 0.8455 euros Reporting By Pamela Barbaglia; editing by David Evans

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