Dr. Martens plans to float on the London Stock Exchange as it looks to expand its offering and drive e-commerce sales, as reported in our sister publication Shoe Intelligence, which covers non-athletic footwear. The company behind the iconic British boot brand expects an eventual free float of 25 percent of the capital, with the potential to list another 15 percent, depending on the demand. The private equity group Permira, which bought the firm in 2013 for £300 million (€333m-$405m), would reduce its stake as part of the offering.

The pricing of the IPO is expected to be set at the beginning of February, depending on the market demand, but according to the Financial Times, it should be in a range of £3 billion (€3.4bn-$4.0bn) and £4 billion (€4.5bn-$5.4bn).

The company sells more than 11 million pairs of shoes and boots a year across 60 countries. It generated revenues of £672 million (€745.8m-$907m) in the year to March 2020, generating Ebitda of £184 million (€204.2m-$248.3m). It also sells through more than 130 own-retail stores globally as well as concessions and through wholesale customers, distributors and franchisees.

Revenues rose by 18 percent to £318.2 million (€353m-$429.5m) in the six months to Sept. 30, while Ebitda grew by a third to £86.3 million (€95.7m- $116.4m). Direct-to-consumer channels comprised 45 percent of revenues in 2020, up from 26 percent in 2015. This was driven by the e-commerce channel, which was highly profitable and made up 20 percent of revenues in 2020, due in part to the coronavirus pandemic, up from 7 percent in 2015.

“We have invested massively to ensure that we deliver the best digital and store experiences to connect with our wearers, and through this we are driving our long-term, sustainable growth,” said chief executive Kenny Wilson. “Even more important is the significant global growth potential for Dr. Martens in the future.” The firm said commissioned research had identified a potential market of 154 million consumers in the U.K., France, Italy, Germany, the U.S., Japan and China who have similar attitudinal profiles as the 16 million consumers who have bought its footwear in those countries in the last 24 months.

Per-capita sales “highlight how underpenetrated Dr. Martens is in many large markets,” the company said. In China, for example, the company sold less than one pair of boots per 1,000 people in 2020, compared to 31 pairs per 1,000 inhabitants in the U.K.

Dr. Martens boots and shoes have been enjoying a resurgence in popularity in the last few years. The boot’s air-cushioned sole was developed in Munich by Klaus Maertens and Herbert Funck. Originally sold as a work boot, the product became popular among the skinhead youths of the 1960s and was synonymous with the punk movement in the 1970s. Manufacturing the boots in the English are of Northampton, R Griggs bought the related patent rights in 1960 before selling the business to Permira.

Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley are coordinating the initial public offering, with Barclays, HSBC, Merrill Lynch and RBC acting as joint bookrunners, if the offer proceeds. Lazard & Co has been appointed as financial advisor.