Made.com wants to become part of stock market furniture

·3-min read

Made.com, the online furniture retailer backed by one of Britain’s most prominent internet entrepreneurs, is exploring plans for a stock market flotation that would value it at well over £500m.

Sky News has learnt that Made.com is in talks with banks about advising on strategic options, which will include an initial public offering to take place in the coming months.

City sources said on Friday that the company, which is backed by Brent Hoberman, one of the co-founders of Lastminute.com, had yet to make any formal decision about whether to pursue a public listing.

The sale of a strategic stake to a new investor or outright sale of the company could also be considered, they added.

One insider said that Made.com's strong financial performance during the last year would provide solid foundations for a flotation if it decided to proceed.

One insider suggested that the retailer would be valued at more than £500m and potentially close to £1bn, although a more precise valuation was unclear.

Made.com was established just over ten years ago by Mr Hoberman as a joint venture between Mydeco.com and Ning Li, a Chinese entrepreneur.

It has expanded beyond the UK and now has a presence in markets such as Italy and Portugal.

In addition to furniture, the platform sells home accessories and other related products.

It dubs itself as offering "high-end design without the high-end price tag".

In December, it emerged that Made.com was handing share options worth at least £10,000 to every member of its 650-strong workforce.

Philippe Chainieux, the company's chief executive, told The Guardian: "The business has faced a lot of uncertainties this year but it has been a positive one for us, and that's really thanks to the contribution of staff: the people on the frontline in our stores, factories and warehouses.

"Without them we would not have been in a position to continue trading during the lockdowns."

Made.com's most recent accounts showed a 22% increase in sales to £212m in 2019, since when revenues have accelerated further, according to insiders.

A flotation of another of Britain's online success stories would come amid a flurry of technology-enabled companies choosing to float on the London Stock Exchange.

In recent months, Sky News has revealed the plans of companies such as Music Magpie, Auction Technology Group, Deliveroo and BeautyBay to go public in the UK.

The rush of those looking to exploit competitive advantages reinforced by the pandemic has been accompanied by a profound shift in the existing retail landscape.

High street veterans such as TopShop and Debenhams have been bought by ASOS and Boohoo respectively, with the acquired brands expected to disappear as physical fixtures.

A spokesman for Made.com said on Friday: "The rapid acceleration in the shift to online shopping, with three to five years change in the past 12 months, meant that 2020 was extremely successful for MADE, despite the challenging environment.

"As we move into 2021, we are exploring the best way to ensure that the business has all the resources required to build on our momentum and seize this unique moment of opportunity."