Chief executive, The Hut Group

Matthew Moulding

Matthew Moulding is one of the few retailers at present that’s even been able to consider an IPO.

The business he co-founded, The Hut, has City advisers on standby to press the button on a float, though this is now on hold.

Since setting up The Hut with chief operating officer John Gallemore in 2004, Moulding has turned it into a multi-website group with a presence in categories ranging from entertainment to fashion, through to acquisitions and launches.

The latest deal came in June this year, when The Hut acquired sports nutrition business Myprotein.com in a deal understood to be worth £58m. The acquisition, Moulding said at the time, would bolster The Hut’s growing health and beauty offer and complement its men’s style and grooming business Mankind.co.uk.

Moulding, a qualified chartered accountant, was formerly chief financial officer of 20:20, a distribution division of Caudwell Group, and led its £365m sale in 2006.

Retail industry big-hitters clearly think The Hut is worth backing. Investors include former Matalan chief executive Angus Monro, who is chairman, former Marks & Spencer chairman Sir Stuart Rose and Sir Terry Leahy, the former Tesco chief executive.

Despite the IPO setback, Moulding has had some success attracting institutional investment interest after the retailer conducted a £32.5m pre-IPO fundraising last year. Investors include Balderton Capital (see Ones To Watch on p36) and the William Currie Group.

Floating The Hut will not necessarily be easy. Online grocer Ocado’s shares have performed poorly since last year’s IPO and the paltry valuation achieved by Play.com when it was sold in September, mean that there will be close scrutiny of The Hut’s potential if it does come to market.

However, Moulding envisages plenty of growth in the future, partly through continued international expansion. He wants to make The Hut “one of Europe’s leading online players”.

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