R. M. Williams (company)

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R. M. Williams
IndustryFootwear, clothing
FounderR. M. Williams

R. M. Williams is an Australian footwear and clothing company. It is best known for producing chelsea boots. The company was founded by Reginald Murray Williams and now forms part of the Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy Group.

Early years[edit]

R.M. Williams began selling saddles to Sir Sidney Kidman, a wealthy pastoralist in 1932. He soon had a small factory running in his father's back shed in Adelaide that rapidly expanded.[1]


R.M. Williams elastic side riding boots
R.M. Williams lace-up boots

Williams' most successful products were handcrafted riding boots. These boots unique when they were introduced to the market, as they consisted of a single piece of leather that was stitched at the rear of the boot (the models that featured an elastic side have been particularly popular). As of 2013, the R.M. Williams Company produced handcrafted riding boots, with the use of 70 hand processes and a single piece of leather externally (with the inside lining being made up of several pieces).

As of 2002, about 80% of R. M. Williams products were made outside of Australia, mostly in China and South East Asia. This included lace up footwear, leather bags and accessories, T-shirts, caps, seasonal shirts/shorts, polo shirts and some leather wallets.[2] Over recent years R.M. Williams has focused on becoming a luxury shoe company aimed at city-dwellers. As of 2019, it operated around 50 of its own retail stores worldwide, and its boots were available in 500 department stores.[3] R.M. Williams boots are often worn by Australian politicians.[4] Pairs of the boots have also been given to foreign leaders by Australian prime ministers.[5]

R.M. Williams' Craftsman boots were selected as the Australian Army's standard parade boots in 2013 following a competitive tender.[6]

The company brand is a Texas longhorn cattle head.


Following the founding of the R.M. Williams company in 1932, Williams sold the business in 1988 to the long established South Australian stock and station agents Bennett & Fisher. That business went into receivership in 1993, after banks were concerned about $16 million of debts.[7][8][9]

R.M. Williams Pty Ltd was then placed under the ownership of long-time friend Ken Cowley, who acted in partnership with Australian business mogul Kerry Stokes, and together with his family, presided over R.M. Williams Pty Ltd for two decades. The company employs 600 people globally, 300 of them based in South Australia.[10]

On 26 March 2013, the Cowley family released a statement which announced an intention to sell the company to a new owner for $100 million. The statement described the sale process as an assessment of "external commercial growth and expansion plans", and the list of potential buyers included Oroton Group, Premier Investments and LVMH. As of March 2013, R.M. Williams Pty Ltd consisted of 50 retail stores, 900 stockists and exports to 15 countries.[10] In April 2013, R.M. Williams sold a 49.9% stake to L Capital, the private equity affiliate of LVMH.[11]

Today, the company is a wholly 100% owned subsidiary of the Singapore-based L Capital RMW (Singapore) Pte Ltd, a private equity firm of Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy Group.[12] In May 2019 R.M. Williams was placed for sale, with its owners reportedly seeking $A400-500 million.[13]

R. M. Williams' headquarters is located in Salisbury, South Australia, a suburb of Adelaide.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "R.M. Williams (1908-2003)". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 2003-11-05. Archived from the original on 21 April 2006. Retrieved 2006-06-19.
  2. ^ AsiaPulse News (November 2002). "AUSTRALIA'S RM WILLIAMS TO START MANUFACTURING PRODUCTS IN CHINA". Look Smart, Find articles. Retrieved 2006-06-19.
  3. ^ Hatch, Patrick (16 May 2019). "The Greatest Showman seeks $25 million R.M. Williams payday". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 1 June 2019.
  4. ^ Street, Andrew P. (10 July 2014). "RM Williams: these boots are made for posing (if you're an Aussie politician)". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 June 2019.
  5. ^ Jolliffe, David (12 November 2012). "Kevin Rudd's riding boots". Blog. Museum of Australian Democracy. Retrieved 16 June 2019.
  6. ^ Austin, Nigel (12 August 2013). "RM Williams to supply Army with boots for next five years". The Advertiser. Retrieved 16 June 2019.
  7. ^ "R. M. Williams not for sale, yet". The Canberra Times. 67 (21, 254). 24 June 1993. p. 19. Retrieved 20 January 2018 – via National Library of Australia.
  8. ^ "IN BRIEF R M Williams float option". The Canberra Times. 67 (21, 303). 12 August 1993. p. 17. Retrieved 20 January 2018 – via National Library of Australia.
  9. ^ "R. M. Williams gets a boost". The Canberra Times. 62 (19, 042). 23 November 1987. p. 17. Retrieved 20 January 2018 – via National Library of Australia.
  10. ^ a b Nigel Austin (26 March 2013). "Legendary Australian bush outfitter R.M.Williams up for sale". The Australian. Retrieved 27 March 2013.
  11. ^ R.M. Williams to remain Australian after sale
  12. ^ RM Williams Proprietary Limited - Retail
  13. ^ Hall, James (16 May 2019). "Aussie icon RM Williams has been put up for sale for $500 million". news.com.au. Retrieved 1 June 2019.
  14. ^ "Company Overview of R.M.Williams Pty Ltd". Bloomberg. Retrieved 1 June 2019.