The iconic boot maker R.M. Williams is officially Australian owned again, after an investment group headed by billionaire Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest and his wife, Nicola purchased the company.
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. An expert believes Forrest will likely leverage his existing China connections to capitalise on its popularity with Chinese consumers.
Mr and Mrs Forrest said they looked forward to meeting the almost 900 RM Williams staff based in Australia, including 400 workers at its workshop in Salisbury, Adelaide.
“R.M. Williams is a quintessential Aussie brand with a long and proud history of high-quality Australian craftsmanship,” mining magnate Mr Forrest said in a statement released on Tattarang’s website.
“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 the same statement.
“By bringing R.M. Williams back into Australian hands, we will ensure the Australian craftsmanship continues to be loved and worn all around the world,” she added.
R.M. Williams was founded in 1932 by bushman and entrepreneur Reginald Murray ‘R.M.’ Williams and is one of Australia’s most iconic brands.
Mr Forrest, who grew up on Minderoo Station in Western Australia’s Pilbara region, said R.M. Williams was deeply entrenched within Australian culture.
“To wear R.M.s 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 R.M. Williams since May last year, with a mooted price of up to $500 million. Tattarang paid $190 million for the brand, according to the Australian Financial Review.
R.M. Williams provided the outfits for the 2008 outback film epic, Australia, which starred Hugh Jackman and Oscar winner Nicole Kidman.
Jackman has a stake in the company and was its brand ambassador, a position he is expected to retain.
Forrest’s Tattarang is on the lookout for more iconic Australian brands and experiences.
“In the context of the current government policy to encourage manufacturing in Australia, it is a sensible approach. The Australian government focus on rebuilding the economy by buying local will help,” Dr. Rob Nicholls, associate professor at the University of New South Wales said.
“There are potential synergies from this as a domestic retail play. However, the portfolio of brands is likely to have a bigger impact in export sectors,” Nicholls told The Epoch Times on Oct. 19.
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Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh have received their Covid-19 vaccinations, a Buckingham Palace spokesperson said Saturday.
Dozens killed in suspected jihadist attack in Niger
Dozens of people were killed in an attack in Niger on Saturday, in a suspected jihadist attack.
The attack took place around 12:00 CET in the Tchomo-Bangou village in Tillabéri, a western region bordering Mali.
“The assailants surrounded the village and killed up to 50 people,” a local radio journalist said anonymously. “The wounded have been evacuated to the hospital in Ouallam.”
It came on the day provisional results for the first round of the presidential election, held on December 27, were released.
Mohamed Bazoum, the candidate for the ruling Party for Democracy and Socialism (PNDS) and a former interior minister, is in the lead with 39.3 per cent of the votes. Bazoum has vowed to strengthen the country’s fight against Islamist groups.
The second round of the election is to be held on February 21.
Niger has been a target for jihadist attacks for years, particularly in the western and southeastern parts of the country.
On December 21, six days before the presidential poll, seven soldiers were killed in Tillabéri. In May 2020, twenty people, including children, were also killed in two of the region’s villages.
Niger votes in presidential and legislative elections
People in Niger began voting in the country’s presidential and parliamentary elections on Sunday.
Mohamed Bazoum, the right-hand man of outgoing President Mahamadou Issoufou is the favourite to win.
The sixty-year-old former interior minister is aiming for outright victory in the first round — something that no candidate has done before.
He’s focussing on security and education.
Over 7 million people are eligible to vote. But some voters, like Gambina Moumouni, simply want a president they can trust.
“We pray to Allah to choose us the president who has the most mercy for the people, a president who will not betray the country and who will not betray the trust of the people, that is our wish. It is also our wish that Allah may help to make the poor, the peasants, the (cattle) breeders happy.
Thirty candidates are standing including two former presidents and two former prime ministers, but according to seasoned observers in the region, the poll is arousing little enthusiasm among the population.
Niger is the world’s poorest according to the UN’s Human Development Index and also one of those hardest hit by climate change.
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