The moribund IPO market got a jolt this week with the news that beauty and nutrition company The Hut Group is plotting the biggest float of a British company in seven years.
On Thursday morning the Manchester-based online retail group confirmed its intention to float on the London Stock Exchange with a deal to sell 20% of its shares for £920m, valuing the company at a whopping £4.5bn.
The group said the IPO would support future growth plans by increasing its public profit and brand awareness, as well as providing it with a wider base of long-term shareholders.
“The brands we own give us leading strategic positions in prestige beauty and nutrition, powered by Ingenuity, our differentiated proprietary direct-to-consumer e-commerce solution,” said Matthew Moulding, founder, CEO and chairman of THG.
THG owns brands including the ESPA skincare range and sports nutrition player Myprotein, selling its own goods and third-party products through its range of websites.
It currently manufactures 57% of its owned beauty brand products, and 80% of Myprotein products across four production facilities.
Rapid growth since its inception in 2004 has seen it build revenues from £1m to £1.1bn in its most recent 2019 financial year, driven by sales growth of 24.5% last year. The profitable business posted adjusted EBITDA of £111.3m last year, representing an adjusted EBITDA margin of 9.8%.
The group has grown rapidly through M&A to date and has an “attractive opportunity pipeline” to continue building its product range and retail reach. THG is targeting overall revenue growth of 20%-25% over the medium term based on a “strong growth trajectory in all segments”.
During 2019, more than 610 million visits were made to websites on the THG Ingenuity platform and more than 80 million units spanning 1,000 brands were dispatched using its infrastructure.
CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson said the IPO valuation looked fair. “The technology is proven, and the business is used by big consumer brands as a logistics and infrastructure provider,” he told Reuters.
A banking consortium of Citigroup JP Morgan Barclays and Goldman Sachs will market the offer, with the shares expected to be listed in mid-September if THG presses ahead with the float.
A £4.5bn value listing would be the largest equity offering for a UK-based firm since the flotation of Royal Mail back in 2013.