A new stage: Dr Martens valued at $5 billion in share sale

FILE - In this Wednesday, April 23, 2003 file photo, a pair of Dr. Martens 1460 workboots, as interpreted by designers Michael & Hushi, are part of an exhibition of Dr. Martens boots in New York. The Dr. Martens footwear company is set to list on the London Stock Exchange for the first time next week. Shares in the company which pioneered the air-cushioned sole, will go on public sale on Wednesday Feb. 3, 2021, in a flotation that values the shoe brand at around 3.7 billion pounds ($5 billion). (AP Photo/Joe Kohen, file)
FILE - In this Wednesday, April 23, 2003 file photo, a pair of Dr. Martens 1460 workboots, as interpreted by designers Michael & Hushi, are part of an exhibition of Dr. Martens boots in New York. The Dr. Martens footwear company is set to list on the London Stock Exchange for the first time next week. Shares in the company which pioneered the air-cushioned sole, will go on public sale on Wednesday Feb. 3, 2021, in a flotation that values the shoe brand at around 3.7 billion pounds ($5 billion). (AP Photo/Joe Kohen, file) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

LONDON – Dr. Martens boots have been valued by rebellious youth through the decades. From Wednesday, the maker of the famous air-cushioned boots with the distinctive yellow stitching will be valued at some $5 billion when it sells shares publicly.

Born in the aftermath of World War II in the shattered remains of Germany and via a journey that saw it become an emblem of youth culture, the Dr. Martens footwear company is set to list on the London Stock Exchange for the first time next week.

Shares in the company will go on public sale on Wednesday in a flotation that values the shoe brand at around 3.7 billion pounds ($5 billion). Around 35% of the business will be available for investors to buy and sell.

“The successful transformation of Dr. Martens is a great story, and what is even more exciting is the huge potential ahead," Chief Executive Kenny Wilson said.

The company aims to use the anticipated proceeds from the sale to expand the brand, which is currently owned by private equity firm Permira.

Dr Martens boots are sold in more than 60 countries, and customers buy around 11 million pairs every year. The brand still sees room for expansion.

The Dr. Martens boots and shoes have their roots in post-war Munich in 1945 when Dr. Klaus Maertens, a 25-year-old soldier, was convalescing from a broken foot. Looking for an alternative to the traditional hard leather sole, he came up with an air-cushioned alternative that he showed to an old university friend and mechanical engineer, Dr. Herbert Funk.

By adapting disused military supplies, the pair began producing their novel shoes two years later and within a decade they had a booming business, though the big buyers at first were mainly older women.