Very Group IPO: Everything you need to know about Very

Once known as Shop Direct, the UK online shopping giant Very Group is said to be lining up Barclays, Morgan Stanley and UBS to assist in its IPO. Read on as we explain more about the Very Group initial public offering (IPO).

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When will Very Group go public?

The Very Group float has no fixed date as it stands. It would likely proceed before the end of 2022 unless the company rethinks its strategy. 

In August 2021, it launched a £575 million bond as part of a concerted effort to reorganise its balance sheet.

The company’s owners may yet be tempted to change course completely by issuing a private sale of some stock while maintaining majority ownership but market commentators believe that is the less likely option.

How much is Very Group worth?

According to a Sky News report in August 2021, Very Group is aiming to achieve a £4 billion flotation.

At the start of the year, most commentators were putting a value on its float at around the £3 billion mark.

And considering it was worth £1.5 billion in January 2020, it is clear just how much the pandemic has done for the brand, with shoppers forced to explore online options.

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What does Very Group do?

Very Group is a multi-brand online retailer and financial services provider based in Liverpool, England, serving the UK and Ireland.

It was established in November 2005 through the merger of Littlewoods and Shop Direct.

Ongoing restructuring and modernisation of the company has resulted in Very Group emerging as one of the largest online retailers in the UK. Its success has principally been driven through the very.co.uk app and website.

Best known for its wide range of clothing, very.co.uk also offers toys, sports equipment, home and garden furniture, gaming and jewellery. Customers can purchase goods on credit through a “buy now, pay later” scheme.

How does Very Group make money?

As one of the most successful and largest online retailers in the UK, Very Group has developed a strong reputation as a reliable go-to for customers who favour online shopping.

Very Group makes money in the way any retailer does, by pricing in a profit margin on the goods it sells to customers.

The majority of its sales come from mobile devices, and it also offers financial services, such as loans and insurance.

What is Very Group’s business strategy?

As much as very.co.uk has been a success, Very Group has had to carefully bring about a “managed decline” of its other chief flagship brand, Littlewoods.

Very Group’s business strategy is massively focused towards marketing very.co.uk but it is not yet ready to wield the axe over Littlewoods. That’s partially because the credit terms applying to many Littlewoods customers are distinct to those on offer at very.co.uk.

Very Group also operates some other brands, including Woolworth’s – an online-only portal now after spending decades close to the affections of British shoppers as a well-known discount chain.

Very Exclusive sells luxury fashion while the Group also sells an own-brand fashion label, V by Very, alongside Ladybird for children. In October 2018, it closed a handful of stores branded The Outlet, stocking discounted surplus goods, plus the website Bargain Crazy.

Is Very Group profitable?

Very Group posted strong profits in its most recent sales figures released in October 2020.

Demonstrating how it had used the pandemic as a spur for growth amid a sea change in people's shopping habits, it announced a series of highly impressive numbers.

Retail sales increased 10.5% to £1.23 billion, driving revenue growth of 2.9% to £2.05 billion. Customer numbers accessing the online platform increased even more spectacularly, up 14.1% to 3.4m.

The Group recorded profit before tax of £48m and underlying EBITDA of £264m, each including Covid-19 related costs.

Who owns Very Group?

Very Group is owned by the Barclay family, proprietors of the Daily Telegraph and former owners of London's Ritz Hotel.

The Sunday Times Rich List of 2020 estimated the family’s wealth at £7 billion. They are notoriously reluctant to speak to the media and have also been accused of tax avoidance by placing assets under ownership of companies registered abroad and controlled through trusts. 

Aidan Barclay, son of the late Sir David and nephew of Frederick, collectively known as the Barclay Twins or Barclay Brothers, manages the family’s interests.

Board of Directors of Very Group

  • Henry Birch, Group CEO
  • Ben Fletcher, Group CFO
  • Matt Grest, Group CIO
  • Phil Hackney, Group COO
  • Tommy Jordan, Financial services CEO
  • Sam Perkins, Managing director, retail
  • Sarah Willett, Chief people officer

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