retail plans to raise £100m in London listing

The online furnishings seller is planning to raise £100m via a stock market listing expected to value the British company at more than £1bn and allow hundreds of staff to cash in shares.

About 600 staff including senior managers will be able to sell shares worth more than 5% of the company, or £50m, as part of the listing. That is half the 10% to 15% in share options, worth up to £150m, they were collectively handed by the company in December. is listing in London after the group, co-founded by the entrepreneur Brent Hoberman in 2010, increased sales by about 30% to £315m last year but made an underlying loss of just over £5m. In the first three months of 2021, sales growth rose again by 63%.

The company says it needs cash to drive growth across mainland Europe, where it already operates in seven countries including France, Spain, the Netherlands and Germany, and expand its range of smaller homewares such as textiles and ceramics, to complement its furniture stock. is hoping to capitalise on a shift to buying online that has been accelerated by the pandemic.

“Today we are at the inflection point [for furnishings] seen in other categories like fashion and electronics. Now is the right time to accelerate and raise the profile of the brand especially in Germany and France,” said Philippe Chainieux, the company’s chief executive.

The furniture group’s listing follows a number of other online specialists cashing in after a surge in sales during the pandemic when high street shops, restaurants and many workplaces were closed.

The online greetings card and gifts specialist floated with a valuation of £1.2bn in February and the secondhand technology and entertainment site MusicMagpie floated on the junior Aim market last month. However, it has not been good news for all online businesses trying their luck. The takeaway courier firm Deliveroo’s shares dived by more than a quarter on its stock market debut as investors worried about its ability to make a profit and treatment of its couriers.

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There is some nervousness that online sellers’ strong growth will evaporate as shops reopen and the economic impact of the lockdowns puts a dampener on household spending. Chainieux said he expected the shift online to be permanent and was also upbeat about the future for spending on homes.

He said growth would continue after a huge boost in the past year as lockdown inspired a wave of home improvement as well as forced adaptations to homes to accommodate workspace, home schooling and sometimes grownup children returning home.

“The status of the home is changing,” Chainieux said. “People will continue to spend on their home and more disposable income will be allocated to that.”


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