The Hut Group’s shares jumped to a record high on the back of a bumper sales update that boosted the wealth of the founder and his wife by close to £25m in a single day.
In its first update to the market since the blockbuster float on the London Stock Exchange last month, the fashion and beauty online seller revealed revenues between July and September were 38.6 per cent higher than a year earlier.
In total it pulled in £378.1m of sales in the three months to September 30, allowing bosses to hike full-year guidance to between £1.48billion to £1.52billion, up from £1.43billion. Shares rose 4.2 per cent, or 28.2p, to 694.8p, increasing the value of the holdings of founder Matt Moulding, 48, and his wife Jodie, by £24.8m to £610.9m. His father, brother and nephews also hold stakes, which are worth £4.1m, up £169,000.
Rich pickings: The Hut Group founder Matt Moulding and wife, Jodie
A string of City and retail grandees have also cashed in from the company’s success.
Former Tesco boss Terry Leahy holds a 1.4 per cent stake, which is worth £94.4m, billionaire tycoon Sir Tom Hunter has shares worth £132.1m, and former Debenhams boss Terry Green’s holding is worth £17.2m.
Private equity magnate and Hut Group director Dominic Murphy has a personal stake worth £127.8m, up £5.2m in a day. Oliver Cookson, the entrepreneur who founded My Protein and sold it to The Hut in 2011 for £58m, pocketed £283m at the float, and also holds £71.5m worth of shares. The Hut, which is valued at £6.4billion, £1billion more than at its initial public offering, also announced the appointment of three advisers to the board as part of efforts to quash criticism of its ‘awful’ governance standards.
The three hires were Damian Sanders, a former senior partner at Deloitte and non-executive director at Cineworld, and PwC partners Adam Waller and Alan McGill.
The firm has not appointed an independent director fuelling unease about oversight of the board where Moulding is surrounded by allies. The Hut insisted it would fulfil its promise to appoint a nonexecutive director within 12 months of the float. Critics have highlighted the powers Moulding has retained as executive chairman, combining the roles of chief executive and chairman. He holds a ‘founder’s share’ allowing him to veto takeovers of the company, even if such a deal were in the best interest of independent shareholders.
The Hut also transferred its property into his name and, as landlord, he extracts £19.4m in annual rents.
In a boisterous first trading update, Hut said direct-to-consumer sales jumped by 51.3 per cent over the three-month period as shoppers continued to flock to online sellers during the pandemic. Beauty sales, which includes the Espa brand, were up 45 per cent to £157.5m, and the nutrition division, which includes My Protein, increased its sales by 42.8 per cent to £145.4m.
Bosses hailed ‘very strong’ demand during the period, as it saw more people make repeat purchases from its platforms. Revenues from its technology business, which helps Nestle and Hotel Chocolat sell direct to its consumers, rose by 10.1 per cent.
It had integrated 12 different courier firms globally with its platforms to enable fast delivery, and a ‘foundation finder’ to make it easier for customers to find the right product online.