Palladin Nabs Majority Stake in Harrys of London
By Katie Abel, Womens Wear Daily Footwear News
Palladin Consumer Retail Partners LLC is rapidly growing its presence in the footwear arena.
The Boston-based private equity firm signed an agreement today to acquire a majority interest in Harrys of London, marking Palladin’s second major footwear deal in the past few months. The company, led by CEO Mark Schwartz, snapped up Aerosoles in June.
Financial terms of the new partnership with Harrys were not disclosed. Jennifer Moores, one of the founding shareholders of Harrys is participating in the investment. Chairman Martha Wikstrom and Creative Director Kevin Martel also remain significant shareholders in the company and will continue at the brand. (Founder Matthew Mellon, who recently launched the Hanley Mellon collection with wife Nicole Hanley Mellon, will also retain a stake. He is not active in the company.)
Schwartz told Footwear News that Harrys stood out because of its focus on combining artisanal craftsmanship with the latest footwear technology. “We’ve been looking for the right platform in the men’s market and we think this is a successful brand that has been underdeveloped,” Schwartz said from China, where is he visiting some of Aerosoles’ production facilities. “Men are finally paying attention to what they’re wearing, and they are looking for the right fit and technology [in their footwear].”
Palladin plans to significantly expand Harrys’ presence in the U.S. and European, while also building the brand in Asia and the Middle East, where it already has a strong following.
Schwartz, who was first introduced to Harrys by Louis Boston owner Debi Greenberg, said he will ramp up marketing to build buzz. He also plans to make more hires.
“We want to work with the existing team to find out where the holes are, and then bring on additional resources,” he said, adding that unlike many private equity firms, Palladin will be very involved in the brand’s operations. Caryn Lerner, an operating partner at Palladin who formerly headed Holt Renfrew, will also work closely with the label.
For her part, Wikstrom said she is looking forward to tapping into new growth opportunities globally and telling the brand’s story to more consumers.
“The thing I love about Harrys is that it mixes [traditional] shoemaking with all kinds of new technology,” she said.
Martel added that after spending almost a decade taking Harrys “from a small idea to something quite global,” he is excited about the next chapter with Palladin.
“Menswear is obviously very strong in the U.K., and we’ve got a real [international] audience here,” Martel said. “We’ve naturally bounced in the Middle East, and our Asian business is growing organically. With the right structure, we’ll become bigger in the U.S.”