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Cowley looks to expand RM Williams

Cowley looks to expand RM Williams

RM Williams' owner Ken Cowley is assessing the iconic Australian retailer's growth plans, which could include putting the business up for sale.

The owner of iconic Australian retailer RM Williams could be looking to sell the bootmaking and clothing business to help fuel its expansion.

The retailer released a statement on Monday amid reports that owner Ken Cowley was seeking offers of about $100 million for the 81-year-old business.

"To ensure the future development of RM Williams domestically and internationally Mr Cowley is now assessing external commercial growth and expansion plans," the statement said.

"At the forefront of this assessment is a commitment to the security of RM Williams employees and stakeholders and the continued integrity of the RM Williams product range."

The retailer's footwear and clothing brand has become well known around the globe, with celebrity clients ranging from former US president Bill Clinton to supermodel Elle Macpherson.

IG Markets strategist Evan Lucas said one way to expand the business would be for Mr Cowley to sell the company to a private equity firm or consortium.

Alternatively, Mr Cowley could install a board and managing director to run the business or list it on the stock market.

"It would suggest that Ken Cowley is looking at avenues to hand over, not only the ownership, but also the running of the company," Mr Lucas said.

He expected Mr Cowley would be keen to keep the company in Australian hands.

"He'd probably be trying to look domestically before going overseas," he said.

"Obviously in the forefront of his mind would be what happened to Ugg Australia."

Ugg Australia was sold to US company Deckers Outdoor Corporation in 1995.

RM Williams was founded in 1932 by Reginald Murray (RM) Williams, a close friend of Mr Cowley.

Mr Cowley, a former chairman and chief executive of Rupert Murdoch's News Ltd, took control of the company in 1994 alongside Seven Group chairman Kerry Stokes.

Mr Cowley became the sole owner of RM Williams in 2003.

The business now exports to 15 countries, has more than 50 retail stores and 900 stockists.

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Tags RM WilliamsKen Cowleybusiness expansion

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