Moonpig, the online greetings card company, is reportedly readying itself to launch a £1 billion-plus IPO as soon as next week, making it the first significant London flotation of 2021. It is believed that progress made over the weekend will determine just how soon the IPO might go ahead. But even if not next week, it seems likely that the listing will take place before the end of January.
The company is chaired by Kate Swann, who has a strong track record, having previously engineered a transformation of WH Smith before leading SSP, which owns Upper Crust and Ritazza, through its own IPO. Ms Swann also chairs IVC Evidensia, the pet care chain which is also expected to move to an IPO before the end of the first quarter.
Moonpig has been under private equity ownership since 2016, when Photobox, its parent company and makes of personalised photo products and other gifts, was acquired by Exponent Private Equity. The owners now want to cash in by spinning Moonpig out as an independent company via a public listing.
Moonpig caters to around 12 million customers, and sends out 45 million customised cards a year. Over the past few years, the online business has been trying to reposition itself as a technology business. It has been building out systems that use customer data and predictive technology to remind users when friends have birthdays or other regular celebrations coming up. Its platform also now suggest add-on gifts, which has seen it become one of the five biggest florists in the UK.
The company’s current chief executive is Nickyl Raithatha, who moved to Moonpig from his previous role as head of Rocket Internet’s ecommerce division. He also previous led online fashion brand Finery. Moonpig’s most recent financial results published, for the year to the end of April 2020, showed sales of £173 million and pre-tax earnings of £44 million. The acceleration of the trend towards online shopping this year is expected to have led to a significant improvement on those figures over the current financial year.
Moonpig’s move to IPO is another indication of the divergence in fortunes between digital retailers and traditional bricks-and-mortar rivals. The latter have suffered during pandemic restrictions, while the former have flourished. Paperchase, Moonpig’s bricks-and-mortar high street rival, earlier this week filed notice to appointing administrators. 1500 jobs are at risk, if the chain goes under.
2021 is expected to generally be a busy one for London IPO activity. Despite 2020’s uncertain environment and general economic woes, the 40 companies that floated on the London Stock Exchange represented an 11% increase on 2019 figures. This year is expected to see another increase in the number and value of companies listing.
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