LVMH’s loss of our beloved leather has many green and gold’s in celebration.
The Land-Down Under celebrates a victorious win, securing our very own lavish leather back into production onshore thanks to Andrew and Nicola Forrest. And whilst R.M. Williams has always depicted Australian heritage since bushman ‘Reginald Murray Williams’ founded the label 88 years ago, its luxurious and well-acquainted calibre founded heavy interest in Paris amongst mogul fashion enterprise; LVMH Group.
Housed to multiple established luxury fashion labels (Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior, Loewe, Celine – to name a few), the French empire bought the Australian solace in 2013, bedding farewell to a monumental production line, instantly removing ‘100% Australian owned’ from the quirky catchphrase we all wished to be true. Whether it be a loss to the Europeans or a victory for us, the diverse leather was classed ‘undervalued’ across consumer’s in high fashion throughout European markets, resulting in limited sales to honour the right of LVMH’s premium status. Thus, leaving L Catterton – affiliate equity firm – listing the Australian label on the international market for reportedly $200 million dollars in 2019.
It didn’t take long for an Australian interest to circulate the offer for an all-exclusive deal, returning production to Australia. That being said, Australian billionaire ‘Andrew Forrest’ aka ‘Twiggy,’ – known for his monumental success in mining, iron ore and cattle stations – took an unusual purchase toward the prominent fashion label considered a staple amongst many. The news (well-received) had most speculating whether the manufacturing process had the potential of becoming 100% Australian made, and nonetheless, it does!
“I want to drive for Australian made only, and that’s our vision and we’re going to do that as soon as we possibly can.”
“Nicola and I are incredibly proud and humbled to be able to bring RM Williams back under Australian ownership,” Twiggy said in a recent statement; “RM Williams is a quintessential Aussie brand with a long and proud history of high-quality Australian craftsmanship.”
Currently, only 2% of the stock is manufactured overseas with the remaining 98% made onshore. Location wise, production facilities are currently located in Salisbury, employing 400 staff in the factory with an additional 500 employees across the country. Of recent news, the leather giant announced plans to extend the factory for greater production after staff suggest space is no longer adequate.
A staggering 1,200 boots are made per day, and with little room, a back-log of orders is halting reputable deadlines. “It’s an extraordinary production line and they all say they need more space, so it’s obviously something we’re going to have to look at.” Whilst there are no immediate timelines, Twiggy’s ideals stem further than a noticeable factory; “the timeframe is as soon as possible. We’re yet to determine how big the challenge is, we don’t even have a Tafe which can provide the skills here in South Australia, so we’ve really got to start at ground floor.”
In a recent study shared by the Australian Financial Review, mentions of the Australian Billionaire’s private investment firm, Tattarang, was found responsible for securing the deal in 2019. This tidy calculation stems from LVMH’s 49.9% stake sold to affiliate equity firm, L Catterton in 2013, which at the time was valued at $110million, boasting a return of 82% interest scaling RM William’s valuations to $200million in 2019.
With a prosperous net worth, it’s not only private investors securing prominent returns. Too, did Hugh Jackman, knowingly becoming the face of the brand throughout the years. His loyalty saw him sell 5% RM Williams stake to Tattarang, with estimations from The West Australian suggesting a $10million cash-out deal whilst remaining brand ambassador will be succumbed – not a bad outcome for the Aussie superstar.
Alas! Our opulent leather remains in good hands after years of European influence, and with Andrew and Nicola pushing toward Australian production – it’s a moment all leather enthusiasts have patiently aspired.