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Jul 18, 2021
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Very Group ponders spring IPO or sale - report

Published
Jul 18, 2021

UK online retail group Very could be in line for a stock market listing. Its private owners in the Barclay family are reportedly considering a possible flotation or sale of the business early in 2022.


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Equity capital markets specialist STJ Advisors has been hired to prepare the company for an IPO, or selling a stake in Very to a third party, a report by Sky News claimed. A share sale could make the family £4 billion, it added.

It's not the first time the owners have tried to offload the business as they sought to sell it nearly two years ago, although reports said it didn't attract bids at a high enough price. There were also rumours of IPO plans back in January.

Very, which is one of the largest online retailers in Britain, operating the Very and Littlewoods brands selling fashion, beauty, furniture and electricals, was previously known as Shop Direct.

Like many of its digital peers, Very has been the beneficiary of coronavirus lockdowns, with annual revenues rising 2.9% to over £2 billion in the 12 months to the end of June 2020. In the period, Very also recorded its first pre-tax profit since 2017, hitting £48m, against a £185m loss the previous year.

News of STJ’s appointment emerged as Very announced that the loans that both it and its parent company had taken out with Greensill Capital, the collapsed finance firm, had been repaid to its administrators. Very’s then parent company Shop Direct Holdings had borrowed heavily from Greensill, in part to fund investment in a new warehouse facility near Derby.

The Barclay family’s business operations are spearheaded by Sir Frederick and also include Yodel, the parcel delivery business, and national newspaper group The Telegraph. His twin brother Sir David died in January at the age of 86.

A Very spokeswoman declined to comment on a potential flotation to Sky News. 

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