Owners of Very Group weigh up IPO

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The owners of online retailer Very Group have reportedly appointed STJ Advisors to prepare the company for a possible initial public offering on the London Stock Exchange next year.

Very Group sells clothing, electrical goods and toys, and is owned by David and Frederick Barclay – which also owns logistics group Yodel as well as the Daily and Sunday Telegraph newspapers.

Sky News reported that the appointment of STJ is a sign that the Barclays are looking to take one of their businesses into public trading.

However, sources have said that a partial stake sale while Very remains private is still an option.

For the nine months ended March 31, Very posted a pretax profit of £43.8m, up from £38m the same period a year before, on revenue which grew 17% year-on-year to £1.79bn.

2020 annual revenues were boosted by online shopping during the pandemic with Very turnover growing 2.9% to more than £2bn for the first time. During this period, Very also recorded pre-tax profits of 48m, compared to a loss of £185m in the previous year.

News of STJ’s appointment was revealed when Very announced to the collapsed financial company Greensill Capital that loans made by both STJ and its parent company had been repaid to managers.

Very’s parent company Shop Direct Holdings had a large loan from Green Sill to fund an investment in a new warehouse near Derby.

The Barclays family’s operations are led by Sir Frederick, including the parcel delivery business Yodel and the national newspaper group Telegraph.

The Barclays family has owned Very Group – formerly Shop Direct – for nearly 20 years, during which they abandoned its historic Littlewoods catalogue and stores as consumer shopping habits migrated online.

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