Clarks shoes rescued in £100m deal with LionRock Capital

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Clarks says it can now keep all its UK stores open

Clarks, one of the UK's oldest shoe chains, has been rescued in a £100m investment deal.

The money is being invested by the Hong Kong-based private equity firm LionRock Capital.

As part of the deal, Clarks - which has 320 shops across the UK - will enter a form of administration known as a company voluntary agreement (CVA).

The company said the agreement meant no shops would be permanently shut and no jobs would be lost.

Like many retailers Somerset-based Clarks has struggled this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The CVA means landlords will have to accept a percentage of a shop's revenue for their rent instead of relying on a fixed lease.

Clarks first began making shoes in Street 195 years ago.

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Clarks will now pay rent on its shops based on turnover

Philip de Klerk, interim finance chief at Clarks, said it was a move the company had made "out of complete necessity".

"It is important to stress that we are not announcing the closure of any stores today, and employees and suppliers will continue to be paid," he said.

Desert boots

If successful in a shareholders' vote next month, LionRock will buy a majority stake in Clarks, with the Clark family no longer the main shareholders, although they will remain investors.

In 2019 the company closed its only remaining UK factory, which had opened in 2017 solely to make desert boots.

Before that, the last remaining Clarks plant in the UK - Millom in Cumbria - closed in 2006 as production was moved to the Far East.

The company is the latest high street firm to turn to insolvency measures to avoid complete collapse.

Retailers including New Look, Jigsaw and Edinburgh Woollen Mill have all used insolvency processes to reduce debts as their stores struggled because of the pandemic.

Clarks shops are not counted as essential under the lockdown rules which begin at midnight tonight so will be closing, but they can still offer a click-and-collect service.

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