Forrest family buys bootmaker RM Williams

Daniel Fowler
October 19, 2020

Iconic homegrown brand - R.M. Williams - has returned to being Australian-owned after its latest acquisition from LVMH Group by the investment company owned by billionaire mining magnate Dr Andrew "Twiggy" Forrest and wife Nicola Forrest.

Mr Forrest acquired the iconic Aussie brand from U.S. private equity firm L Catterton, bringing it back under Australian ownership for the first time since 2014.

RM Williams provided the outfits for the 2008 outback film epic, Australia, which starred Hugh Jackman and Oscar victor Nicole Kidman.

Nicola and I are incredibly proud and humbled to be able to bring R.M. Williams back under Australian ownership.

As part of the deal, Australian actor Hugh Jackman will relinquish a five per cent stake in the business, which is worth around $10 million.

"It always rankled a bit that this great Australian, Reginald Murray Williams, kicked off this fantastic organisation, employed so many people, and then it had to go to overseas hands", he said.

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"R.M. Williams - I just want to see that grow".

Dr Forrest, the second-richest Australian and Fortescue Metals Group chairman, said he retained his first pair of R.M. Williams boots, given to him as a Christmas present as a teenager, and wore them on special family occasions.

"It's such a great Australian company, high-quality products, attractive boots that people wear in the country and the city, you can wear them anywhere", says Nicola Forrest.

R.M. Williams chief executive officer Raju Vuppalapati said repositioning of the brand under L Catterton had resulted in significant growth, making the brand the strongest it had been in its 88-year history.

"We just saw a great Australian product, a legacy for our country, and it just needed to be Australian", he said.

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