Beauty, wellbeing and software giant THG has never been far from the headlines over recent months.
Founded by now billionaire Matthew Moulding, the Manchester-headquartered group completed one of the largest ever floats on the London Stock Exchange in September 2020, valuing it at £5.4bn at the time.
It seemed to be going from success to success, after pivoting from first selling CDs online through to expanding into beauty products and apparel as well as software.
However it looks like the bubble might have now burst, with billions of pounds being wiped off its value so far this year after a series of challenges over its structure and its corporate governance.
But how much do you know about one of the most high profile companies in the North West?
Here, BusinessLive tells you all you need to know about THG.
The company’s origins
The group was founded in 2004 by Matthew Moulding and John Gallemore with a £500,000 investment and focused on entertainment products including music and gaming.
In an interview with the Manchester Evening News, Mr Moulding said he came up with the idea for an online retailer while working for Caudwell Group, which includes the now-defunct mobile phone retailer Phones4U.
Mr Moulding initially took the idea to his bosses at Caudwell, but they said no, so he decided to go it alone.
Then known as The Hut Group, the firm also created website for large retailers such as Asda, Argos, Tesco and WHSmith.
Matthew Moulding was born in Burnley, Lancashire, and attended Ss John Fisher and Thomas More RC High School in Colne.
He was expelled from college for truancy but was persuaded to finish his education and went to the University of Nottingham before going on to qualify as a chartered accountant.
He started working for John Caudwell, the Phones4U billionaire, where he became finance director of the Caudwell Group’s distribution business.
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He currently serves as chairman and chief executive of THG and, according to The Times’ latest rich list, has a net worth of £2.1bn.
John Gallemore studied at the University of Manchester and became a chartered accountant for Deloitte.
In 2001 he moved to become head of finance for international trading business at the Caudwell Group.
He has previously served as chief operating office at THG before moving to his current roles as chief financial officer and chief executive of THG Ingenuity.
Floating on the London Stock Exchange
THG completed one of the largest ever floats on the London Stock Exchange in September 2020.
The share price jumped in value by 25% on the first day of training, netting the company £920m.
After the flotation, Mr Moulding was set to receive one of the biggest payouts in UK corporate history, receiving at least £830m in shares.
The group raised £1.88bn on floatation, holding a market capitalisation of £5.4bn at the time.
The float was the largest by a UK tech company since 2015, comprising 376,273,998 shares in total.
At the time, Mr Moudling said: “I am delighted that THG has received such strong support from some of the world’s largest investors, which means we have been able to achieve a highly successful offer of shares in the company.
“The results of the offer are a clear validation of our business model, significant growth prospects, and recognition of the hard work and talent of all our colleagues.
“Our flotation is the start of an exciting new phase in THG’s development and we look forward to sharing that journey with our new shareholders.”
Where are its headquarters?
THG is based south of Manchester.
In 2019, the group acquired Manchester Airport land as part of its commitment at Airport City where it plans to develop office and studio space over two sites.
It is now based in its new £1bn headquarters – called THQ – which extends to one million sq ft and supports up to 10,000 jobs.
Which brands does it own?
The number of brands THG owns has ballooned since 2009 when it made its first acquisition, online entertainment business Zavvi.
That was followed a year later by wedding accessories retailer IWOOT (IWantOneOfThose.com), Lookfantastic and Mankind Direct.
In 2011 the group acquired HQ Hair out of administration as well as Mrprotein.
Two years later THG bought fashion retailer Coggles and ProBikeKit while it added Finnish online sports nutrition retailer Active Nutrition International and online second-hand marketplace Preloved in 2014.
In 2016 the group then bought US and Australian beauty firm SkinStore, US dieting and nutrition brand IdealShape as well as Hale Country Club and Spa.
A year after that THG made six acquisitions: web hosting firm UK2 Group, Australian beauty online retailer RY.com.au, beauty box subscription services, Glossybox, skincare products brand ESPA and make up brand Illamasqua.
In 2018 it then bought beauty products maker Acheson & Acheson and beauty brand Eyeko while it also acquired French haircare brand Christophe Robin and Eclectic Hotel Group in 2019.
THG also made four acquisitions in 2020: Perricone MD, Dermstore, Claremont Ingredients and David Berryman.
THG released its most recent set of financial accounts in September 2021, for the six-month period to the end of June.
The group posted pre-tax losses of £81.3m for the period, compared to losses of £49.8m it reported for the same time in 2020.
However its revenue surged from £675.6m to £958.8m.
THG Beauty’s revenue increased from £295.6m to £460.8m while THG Nutrition’s went from £258m to £328.4m and THG Ingenuity’s grew to £85.8m from £61.4m. THG OnDemand’s revenue went from £35.4m to £51.6m.
So why has THG been in the news so much recently?
There has barely been a week go by over the last few months that THG has not been in the news for one reason or another.
That’s mainly because billions of pounds have been wiped off its value after a series of challenges over its structure, its corporate governance and a deal with Japanese investor Softbank to buy a stake in Ingenuity.
It’s been back in the news most recently after Mr Moulding, in an interview with GQ magazine, that he may take the group private again.
The co-founder recently announced plans to give up his ‘golden share’ in a bid to restore confidence.
The decision will also see THG move its listing to the premium segment of the London Stock Exchange next year.
At the time, Mr Moulding said he would give up his ‘founder’s share’, which would prevent a hostile takeover of the company, next year.
THG’s share price has plummeted during 2021 and took a major hit following an investor meeting in October where the CEO updated shareholders on trading and its Ingenuity technology division.
However, despite it being unclear what happened investors did not like what they heard and THG’s share price fell by 35%.
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