Lookfantastic owner The Hut Group plans £4.5bn listing


Young women apply face masks

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Hut Group owns the beauty website Lookfantasic

The online retail firm which owns the Lookfantasic and Illamasqua makeup lines plans to sell shares to the public in a move that could generate big payouts for its founder and staff.

The Hut Group’s listing in London could value the company at £4.5bn and it plans to raise £920m through the sale.

If the company performs well, it could land founder Matthew Moulding a £700m windfall.

The group’s other brands include sports nutrition firm Myprotein.

The company said it wanted to use the money it raises from the flotation to expand its business as the trend towards online shopping accelerates.

The Hut Group owns its own websites, warehousing systems and a delivery network and earns money licensing this technology to other businesses. Its customers include Nestlé, Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble, and Nintendo.

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Hut’s Matthew Moulding, seen here with Prime Minister Boris Johnson, could be in line for a £700m payout

Since the business started in 2004, it has been buying beauty and fitness brands and adding them to its online platform.

In an interview with the Sunday Times last year, Mr Moulding said that his business model involves buying brands and then adding them to his network of 200 websites, which operate across 40 currencies and 60 languages around the world, thus expanding the reach of the products.

Sales for 2019 rose to £1.14bn from £916m for 2018, although increased costs and investments pushed the firm into a loss of £43m.

Mr Moulding’s payout is said to be contingent on him delivering very rapid growth, taking the company’s valuation to £7.25bn in two years.

According to the company’s latest annual report, he controls 25.7% of the company, while investment firms Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co and Balderton Capital own 14.4% and 13.7% apiece.

The planned flotation would be the largest share sale in London this year, and the first UK company listing since the coronavirus lockdown, amid a downturn in stock market debuts around the world.

The global number of initial public offerings (IPOs), as the deals are called, fell 19% in the first half of the year, according to accountants EY, as the coronavirus pandemic dented investor confidence.



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