Finance director quits The Hut after it drops plans for flotation


James Thompson@Thompj
Monday 05 December 2011 11:02

The finance director of The Hut, which is backed by some of retail's biggest stars, has quit the online retailer abruptly after it ditched plans for a flotation this year.

Paul Meehan, who only joined The Hut a year ago, has left after his ambition of being the financial head of a public company were dashed by the volatile stock market conditions.

The postponement is a blow to the online specialist's register of millionaire investors which reads like a Who's Who of UK retail over recent decades.

Sir Terry Leahy, the former chief executive of Tesco, Sir Stuart Rose, the former chairman of Marks & Spencer, Terry Green, the ex-boss of Debenhams, and Angus Monro, who previously ran Matalan and is the current chairman of The Hut, are all investors.

The Hut – which sells a vast array of items including CDs, gifting, handbags, footwear, and health and beauty products – does not have any immediate plans to revive the flotation, although it remains a long-term goal. Founded in 2004, The Hut hired Rothschild as advisers and had been in talks with investment banks including Altium, Barclays Capital and Numis.

However, The Hut continues to grow rapidly and has received a further injection of about £5m this month.

All investors – including its main shareholder Balderton Capital and Matthew Moulding, The Hut's chief executive and founder – contributed to the fund raising.

The new funding will help The Hut to make online acquisitions on the Continent. It delivers more than a third of its sales overseas after launching Zavvi – which it bought from the collapsed high street chain – online in Spain and the Netherlands last year.

The online retailer has made a string of acquisitions during the last two years, including Lookfantastic, Mankind and I wantoneofthose. It purchased MyProtein, an online provider of sports nutrition supplements, for £59m in May.

The Hut grew sales by more than 100 per cent to £78.3m in the eight months to 31 August 2011. But the online retailer made a loss of £1.46m for the year to 31 December 2010.

The Hut declined to comment.

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