’60s rebel child Dr Martens stomps its footprint worldwide; a psychedelic punk pivoted by private equity

Made famous by Pete Townsend of the Who, who famously wore Dr Martens on stage when rebelling against flower power fashion and the flamboyant colours of the psychedelic era.

The dark, drab boots were originally conceived in the late 1940s, and sold primarily to Britain’s working classes.

Today the brand tries hard to stick to its roots. “Our purpose is to empower rebellious self-expression,” boasts the Annual General Report.

Dr Martens is now a listed company and not a small one either. In 2021 sales were £773m. The range has expanded beyond the 1460s Townsend fashioned. There’s an Originals category comprising boots, shoes and loafers, a Fashion category of platform boots and shoes, sandals, heels and tailored take downs of the Originals; not to forget a Kids range.

Exports are a hefty chunk of sales. North America is by far the largest territory accounting for 39% and APAC is 18%.

Dr Martens are especially popular in Japan, a market where British punk music found fertile following in the ‘70s, and still today enjoys a loyal, although niche (and ageing) audience. 

Like many businesses now, Dr Martens is dialling up eCommerce versus its bricks n mortar stores; the vast majority of its global EC sites are self-managed.

Sales in 2021 grew double digits and the company makes stomping gross margins over 60%. No surprise perhaps that according to the Financial Times, amongst a sample of 8 analysts following the stock,  their median price target is £5.22, almost 20% above the current level.

Dr Martens floated earlier this year. Before it was held by entirely private equity house Permira. Post-IPO Permira still hold 75% of the equity. The next biggest stakeholder is BlackRock with just short of 5%. Take note BrewDog, no equity punks here!

What Pete Townsend, or other psychedelic rebels would say is for the birds.

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