Mining magnate Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest and his wife Nicola have bought RM Williams from Louis Vuitton-backed American private equity firm L Catterton, meaning the iconic Adelaide-based bootmaker will once again be owned by an Australian company.
“Nicola and I are incredibly proud and humbled to be able to bring RM Williams back under Australian ownership,” Forrest said in a statement. “RM Williams is a quintessential Aussie brand with a long and proud history of high-quality Australian craftsmanship.”
According to the Australian Financial Review, one of the billionaire’s private investment companies, Tattarang, secured the brand for about $190 million. Aussie film star Hugh Jackman will also sell his five per cent stake in RM Williams to Tattarang but remain a brand ambassador. The West Australian estimates he will pocket about $10 million in the deal.
The leather boot, clothing and accessory maker is synonymous with Australian outback life. It was founded in 1932 by Reginald Murray Williams and bought by L Catterton in 2014 for $110 million. It employs around 400 people at its Salisbury workshop in Adelaide and another 500 across the country.
Forrest grew up on Minderoo Station in Western Australia’s remote Pilbara. Tattarang has told the AFR it will seek out more iconic Australian brands and experiences to buy – from rail journeys, theme parks and sporting events, to hotels and resorts.