According to reports, Very, one of the largest online retailers in Britain, is exploring the possibility of an initial public offering (IPO) or a sale early next year. The Barclay family, who currently own Very, have hired equity capital markets specialist STJ Advisors to assist in preparing the company for a potential IPO or the sale of a stake to a third party. If a share sale were to take place, it could potentially value the business at about £4 billion.

This is not the first time that the Barclay family has attempted to sell Very. They previously tried to sell the company nearly two years ago, but did not receive bids at the desired price. There were also rumors of IPO plans earlier this year in January. However, due to the surge in e-commerce and online shopping during the COVID-19 lockdowns, Very has experienced significant growth. In the 12 months leading up to June 2020, the company’s annual revenues increased by 2.9% to over £2 billion. During that same period, Very achieved its first pre-tax profit since 2017, reaching £48 million, compared to a loss of £185 million the previous year.

Very operates under the Very and Littlewoods brands, offering a wide range of products such as fashion, beauty, furniture, and electricals. Formerly known as Shop Direct, the company has become a prominent player in the online retail market. The potential IPO or sale of Very coincides with the repayment of loans taken out by the company and its parent company with Greensill Capital, a finance firm that has since collapsed. Shop Direct Holdings, Very’s then-parent company, heavily borrowed from Greensill for investments in a new warehouse facility near Derby.

Led by Sir Frederick Barclay, the Barclay family has various business interests including the parcel delivery business Yodel and national newspaper group The Telegraph. The spokeswoman for Very has chosen not to comment on the potential IPO or sale. However, the involvement of STJ Advisors suggests that preparations are underway for a listing or stake sale, indicating the company’s readiness to tap into the stock market and potentially unlock significant value for its owners. As the online retail sector continues to thrive, the future of Very appears promising, whether through an IPO or a sale to a third party.

1. BBC News: Very considers IPO or stake sale
2. Reuters: Very explores IPO or stake sale