Online retailer backed by Rose considering IPO to capitalise on growing appetite for digital stocks.

What is The Hut?

Founded in 2004 by chief executive Matthew Moulding and chief operating officer John Gallemore, The Hut runs ‘white label’ etail sites and other ecommerce services for big retail names such as Asda.

It also has its own businesses including entertainment site, gifts specialist and health and beauty businesses and

Online retailer The Hut, which is chaired by former Matalan chief Angus Monro and in which former M&S boss Sir Stuart Rose is an investor, is poised to press the button on an IPO.

The Hut, which runs a raft of transactional etail sites of its own and provides ecommerce services to other big retailers, has held a beauty parade of potential advisers in the last few weeks.

The retailer is now in the final stages of a selection process. A decision about how to proceed is likely soon and a listing could come as early as this autumn.

The Hut’s flotation would be the first by a retailer since online grocer Ocado’s IPO last summer and only the third, along with fashion specialist SuperGroup, since the start of 2010.

Monro said: “The business is doing well and is now of some scale. The advice we’ve been given is that we should consider doing something this autumn. There’s been a lot of interest from big banks as well as medium-sized ones.”

Banks as diverse as Goldman Sachs, Numis, Seymour Pierce and JP Morgan Cazenove were involved in the floats of Ocado and SuperGroup, while New Look - which abandoned its IPO - also went for a mixture of big and small ranging from Credit Suisse to Singer.

City sources were confident that there would be investor appetite for The Hut, which is growing fast as digital commerce accounts for an increasing proportion of retail spending.

One City source said the success of online retailers such as Asos and Ocado - whose shares have risen following a lacklustre market debut - is resulting in attractive valuations. “The Hut has done well and made strategic and opportunistic acquisitions. They’ve got the chance to ramp it up,” said one.

Last year The Hut’s sales rose by 70% to £87m.