Billionaire Barclay family mull £3bn float of online retailer Very Group

LaToya Harding
·2 min read
Hosts Myleene Klass (centre) Roman Kemp (right) and Kate Garraway on stage at the Global Awards 2020 with at London's Eventim Apollo Hammersmith. (Photo by Isabel Infantes/PA Images via Getty Images)
Hosts Myleene Klassm Roman Kempand Kate Garraway on stage at the Global Awards 2020 with at London's Eventim Apollo Hammersmith. Photo: Isabel Infantes/PA Images via Getty Images

The Barclay family are weighing a £3bn-plus ($4bn) stock market floatation of their online retail operation Very Group.

The plans to take the company public are still at an early stage and not thought to be imminent, Sky News first reported, citing sources close to the family. The initial public offering (IPO) decision is said to be under more serious contemplation than at any previous point.

The family, which also owns the Daily Telegraph, are currently looking to capitalise on investor interest in online retailers as the coronavirus pandemic exacerbates the shift from high street shopping to digital.

UBS, which has previously advised the business is thought to have been appointed to help advise on a potential listing plan.

Insiders told the broadcaster that the family started exploring the option for Very Group, which was previously called Shop Direct, before the unexpected death of Sir David Barclay this week after a short illness.

Sir David was the twin brother of Sir Frederick who together built one of the largest private business empires in Britain, spanning hotels, retail and media.

The Barclay family also own the logistics firm Yodel, and previously owned the Ritz hotel in London, which was sold in March last year after a dispute over its valuation.

The brothers had an estimated wealth of £7bn according to the 2020 Sunday Times Rich List.

Very posted record-breaking performance over the festive season, with soaring sales over Black Friday and Christmas.

READ MORE: UK retail sales go into reverse for first time in six months

In a trading update this week, Henry Birch, who runs the company, said the Christmas trading period had "started early at Very and our committed team worked tirelessly to deliver for our customers".

"Because we sell everything our customers could possibly want except food, are online only and offer a range of payment options, we were perfectly placed to help a record number of people make the most of the festive period."

The company posted a rise of more than half a million new customers on its platform, with 139 million website visits, a rise of nearly 50% year-on-year.

Birch added: “Our record-breaking performance was supported by our new fulfilment centre, which processed 3.9 million orders during peak; an incredible achievement for a facility that only launched in March this year, when the first national lockdown was announced.

“While the economic picture remains unpredictable, we have strong momentum as we begin the year.”

Watch: Should I pay off debt or save money during the coronavirus pandemic?