Old Mutual Private Equity tries Footgear on for size

Old Mutual Private Equity announced on Wednesday that its investing arm, Old Mutual Alternative Investments, had concluded the acquisition of a majority interest in local footwear retailer Footgear last week.

Old Mutual Private Equity is one of the largest private equity entities in the country, with R8bn in investments from 30 transactions and returns in excess of R15bn since 2004. Footgear has been in footwear retail in South Africa for 18 years, stocking prominent name brands including Adidas, Nike, Converse and Puma.

In a joint statement announcing the conclusion of the transaction, Footgear CEO Neil Stephens said the deal was an opportunity for Footgear to grow its reputation as a branded footwear retailer of choice in South Africa.

"Quality, service and expertise are deep-rooted in the Footgear culture and we are delighted that this has enabled our growth and our brand's adoption by suppliers and customers. We look forward to the next stage of growth, supported through a partnership with a market leading private equity firm in OMPE," said Stephens.

'Robust market'

Old Mutual Private Equity investment principal Chumani Kula said the investment group saw potential for great growth in the branded retail footwear market in South Africa, even in periods where economic growth is not optimal.

"Branded footwear remains a robust and growing market, and has shown relative resilience in times of slower macro-economic growth. We are culturally and commercially aligned to Footgear's high-quality management team and are proud to back a team that has a long and successful track record," said Kula.

Old Mutual Private Equity investment principal Farhad Khan said the investment group looked forward to making investors great returns by investing in a "savvy" business performing in a "burgeoning" sector.

"At OMPE, we seek to back savvy operators, like Footgear, that are building a business to international standards and we view this as a smart means to invest in a resilient and burgeoning sector in a brand that is loved by its customers. We look forward to working alongside the team as it enters its next growth phase," said Khan.

Old Mutual Alternative Investments manages over $4bn in assets across private equity, infrastructure and various impact funds and has offices in South Africa, West and East Africa.

While the transaction must still be approved by the Competition Commission, the details were concluded at the beginning of June.

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