Forrest family buys bootmaker RM Williams

Iconic Australian bootmaker RM Williams has been bought by Andrew 'Twiggy' Forrest and his wife.
Iconic Australian bootmaker RM Williams has been bought by Andrew 'Twiggy' Forrest and his wife.

Iconic Australian bootmaker RM Williams has been bought by an investment group headed by West Australian billionaire Andrew 'Twiggy' Forrest and his wife Nicola.

Tattarang acquired the 88-year-old company from US private equity firm L Catterton, bringing it back under Australian ownership for the first time since 2014.

The Forrests said they looked forward to meeting the almost 900 RM Williams staff based in Australia, including 400 employees at its workshop in Salisbury, Adelaide.

"Andrew and I want to continue the legacy of this great company, and that means continuing to employ and support the Australians that have built and grown the brand," Mrs Forrest said in a statement released on Tattarang's website.

"By bringing RM Williams back into Australian hands, we will ensure the Australian craftsmanship continues to be loved and worn all around the world."

The company was founded in 1932 by bushman and entrepreneur Reginald Murray 'RM' Williams and is one of Australia's most iconic brands.

Mr Forrest, who grew up on Minderoo Station in WA's Pilbara region, said RM Williams was deeply entrenched within Australian culture.

"To wear RMs is to wear the boots of the countless hard-working Australians that have come before us," he said.

L Catterton had been looking for a buyer for RM Williams since May last year, with a mooted price of up to $500 million.

According to the Australian Financial Review, Tattarang paid $190 million.

RM Williams provided the outfits for the 2008 outback film epic, Australia, which starred Hugh Jackman and Oscar winner Nicole Kidman.

Jackman took a small stake in RM Williams in 2015 and was a brand ambassador for the company, a position he's expected to retain.

South Australian Premier Steven Marshall said the return of the company to Australian hands was great news.

"We're already talking about options. It would be great to get their headquarters back in South Australia," Mr Marshall said.

He said the state government would also look at what tourism opportunities might be developed in association with the company.

Australian Associated Press