Dr Martens boots, famous for their distinctive yellow stitching and air-cushioned soles, are stepping on to the stock market for the first time with a valuation of £3.7 billion ($A6.6 billion).

Starting on Wednesday, it will sell shares publicly on the London Stock Exchange with around 35 per cent of the business - or 403 million shares - available for investors to buy and sell from private equity group Permira. It bought Dr Martens seven years ago for £300 million ($A539 million) and owns about 75 per cent of the company.

The famous shoemaker sells 11 million shoes and boots a year in more than 60 countries - but the brand still thinks there is room for expansion - and it has kicked away any COVID-19 woes, despite lockdowns that resulted in the closure of 130 stores.

The many variations of boots and shoes that Dr Martens sells. Picture: News Corp Australia
The many variations of boots and shoes that Dr Martens sells. Picture: News Corp Australia

 

It reported sales had risen by 18 per cent to £3.18 million ($A5.17 million) in the six months to September 2020, while profits soared by a third to £86.3 million ($A155 million).

"The successful transformation of Dr Martens is a great story, and what is even more exciting is the huge potential ahead." said chief executive Kenny Wilson, who is set to score a stake worth £60 million ($A107 million).

About 2,200 junior employees should receive cash bonuses on the back of the float.

Dr Martens has a colourful history. The idea for the air-cushioned soles came from a German doctor and soldier Klaus Martens, who was looking for an alternative to hard leather after a foot operation following a ski accident.

 

Dr Martens sells 11 million shoes each year and has been worn by celebrities like Rihanna. Picture: Sarah Keayes
Dr Martens sells 11 million shoes each year and has been worn by celebrities like Rihanna. Picture: Sarah Keayes

He teamed up with an old university friend and mechanical engineer before collaborating on the design with a small shoe factory, which adapted disused military supplies.

Initially, older women were the big buyers of Dr Martens.

Then a shoemaking family, the Griggs, snapped up the licence and design to Dr Martens in 1960, implementing the signature yellow stitching.

The boots became popular among skinheads before being used a fashion statement for goths and punks.

In 2003, Dr Martens came close to bankruptcy after it moved manufacturing to China.

Now, its boots are a mainstream fashion staple, with singer Rihanna one of the many celebrities to don the shoes.

Originally published as Iconic shoe brand's $6 billion move


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