Summary

  • Andrew and Nicola Forrest announced their most recent retail investment – the family bought the once Australian-owned company, RM Williams.
  • The Forrest’s investment business Tattarang closed a deal with L Catterton Asia for A$190 million, the biggest investment the country has ever seen.
  • Tattarang is recognised nation-wide for its success and philanthropic activity, as well as for a high affection for horses.

A famous Australian shoemaker RM Williams is back in Australian hands once again.

Tattarang owner Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest, and his wife Nicola Forrest, bought RM Williams for A$190 million and announced it on Monday.

The investment firm and L Catterton Asia signed a sales agreement over the weekend.

RM Williams had been under overseas ownership since 2013 when it was sold to the French luxury business, LVMH Group that owns Louis Vuitton, Sephora, Fendi and similar prestigious brands, whose parent company is Dior. The Group later became part of the private equity business under the name L Catterton.

To finalise the deal, current RM Williams Chairman and L Catterton Operative Ravi Thakran would leave his role within the business.

The Forrests decided to purchase the once Australian-owned RM Williams as they saw a considerable investment opportunity. Namely, they wanted to support both Australian businesses and residents during the first recession since 1998.

With this move, their company, Tattarang will get a retail department added to the rich collection, alongside agriculture, tourism, property, entertainment, fintech, natural resources and biopharmaceutical investments.

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What does this purchase mean for Australia?

Founded in Adelaide, South Australia back in 1932, RM Williams is now back as a renewed Australian shoe firm. The company has 63 stores Australia-wide, and due to the Forrests’ ownership, will continue to operate without shutting down any stores. That means that 400 employees in Salisbury and 300 others across Australia have their jobs secured under RM Williams new leadership.

South Australian MP Steven Marshall welcomed the most significant investment in Australian history, precisely because the company will need to hire more workforce and will improve the current situation of Australian local businesses.

Australian sweetheart Hugh Jackman represents RM Williams as its global ambassador.

Production for RM Williams is focused on inland labour. At the same time, only 2 to 3 per cent of the total output is made overseas. However, the Forrests want to keep the primary boot produce on the continent and provide Australians with more job opportunities during the most challenging times.

RM Williams’s CEO Raju Vuppalapati welcomed the business’s repositioning, saying the shoe company has had the best performance in 88 years as new changes emerged.

As RM Williams’s manufacturing will remain in Australia, the product price is likely to rise due to expensive labour costs.

However, some researchers found that Aussies have been more united than ever during these unprecedented times and have shown a strong will for buying pricier products, as long as they are produced in Australia by Australians. Majority of the 90 per cent of Australians surveyed have stated that they want more local products.

What is Tattarang’s business?

L Catterton had wanted to sell RM Williams (mid-2019) through a formal auction. Unfortunately for the Australian shoemaker, COVID-19 pandemic delayed the sale and had a massive impact on the business.

Tattarang had RM Williams in mind for over a year, stated its Chief Investor John Hartman.

Tattarang is based in Western Australia with its main office in Perth. The company is recognised for being one of the most significant investment businesses on the continent, owned by the Forrest family and operated by CEO Andrew Hagger.

Tattarang’s biggest shareholding lays within Fortescue Metals Group Ltd (ASX:FMG), where it owns 36 per cent of the whole company. FMG is a high-profile mining company that gets mining resources from Pilbara, Western Australia.

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Tattarang also recognised an early potential of Azupay, as they were the first fintech company that executed the PayID system in Australia. The Forrest family business holds the majority of Azupay shares.

DO LEARN: Which are the top Fintech companies in Australia?

They also invested in Swoop, a company that wants to help small and middle-sized family businesses in accessing wireless internet connection. Swoop is based in Australia and offers all-day support, unlimited data, and the same speed for both download and upload actions.

Tattarang is a proud supporter of the Minderoo Foundation, Australian philanthropic organisation that also has an overseas office in Asia. As the Forrest family is widely recognised for their generous donations, it is inspiring to see how they transformed personal values into a multi-billion-dollar business.

The company’s famous name and logo have a deeper meaning behind it. The Forrest family feel great affection for horses, so they named the company and made the logo as a cherishment to a horse breed – fiery stallion.

The family believes in a healthy and genuine connection between horses and people. Both parties need to be highly invested in forming the bond.

How did the Forrest family make their fortune?

Andrew Forrest is the second richest person in Australia, owning A$20 billion. The reason for Forrest’s success was starting a mining company in 1994, named Anaconda Nickel. Now, the company is known as Minara Resources.

Mr Forrest founded his second mining company Fortescue Metals Group in 2003, whose most important trade partner is China.

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A record increase in Fortescue shares made the self-made billionaire Australia’s richest person when his net worth topped ~A$18 billion in July 2008.

Forrest’s nickname Twiggy dates back when he was just a schoolboy. Now, ‘Twiggy’ is the most famous for his philanthropy after the record-breaking donation of A$655 million for various foundations in 2019.  

 

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