RM Williams steps up profit by 49%: Four things it has done to succeed

RM Williams has secured a $3.8 million profit for the 2012-13 financial year, up 49% on the previous corresponding period, less than 12 months after it was snapped up by a division of retail giant Louis Vuitton, reports reveal.

The 82-year-old iconic boot and apparel brand had an increase in revenue of 4.4% to $118.6 million for the year, with boot production increasing by 13.3%, the Australian Financial Review reports.

It has announced plans to open eight new concession outlets in Myer department stores in the current financial year, and three new retail stores. It is also in the early stages of a five year contract with the Australian Defence Force to supply boots for soldiers. 

Private equity firm, L Capital Asia, a Singapore-based arm of LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, bought 49.9% of the company in April 2013 from owner Ken Cowley.

The deal was reportedly worth around $50 million.

“In the past 10 years the board and management have worked intelligently and diligently in delivering the resurgence of the RM Williams brand. I am immensely proud of this,” Cowley said in a statement at the time.

“Partnering with L Capital, which is sponsored by one of the globe’s most prestigious and revered brand companies, LVMH, will allow the RM Williams name to reach its full potential. RM was one of my closest friends and I promised him in 2003 before he passed that I would take his legacy to the world”.

RM Williams was founded in the 1930s by Reginald Williams and is renowned for its leather riding boots. Cowley took ownership of the brand in the 1990s.

Its product offer spans leather boots, jackets and other apparel for men and women. It exports to over 15 countries and has over 50 retail stores nationally, as well as stores in London and New York.

RetailOasis director Nerida Jenkins is not surprised profits are up, as she thinks the company is doing a great deal of things right.

“RM Williams is benefiting from L Capital Asia’s investment…it is a fabulously consistent brand,” she says.

She puts its success down to these four key things.

1. It has stayed true to its heritage

“The brand is ‘highly authentic’ and has key hero products that are well known,” she says.

2. Strong communication

“The brand message and image is consistent and recognisable,” Jenkins says.

“It sells to people who buy into the bush image – tourists and also people in the outback who use the boots and clothes for what they are intended for.”

3. It is timeless

Jenkins says the brand can sit in a sphere of its own without having to follow trends.

“It has the bushman background, but it is still relevant. It is timeless and we are happy for it to live in that space. If it started to follow trends, that would be ridiculous,” she says.

4. Streamlined operations

Finally, Jenkins thinks that RM Williams has perfected its behind-the-scenes operations and distribution channels with the expertise of L Capital. Its increasing focus on department-store concessions will increase its brand presence at a local level and tap into every day consumers, she suggests.


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