Matt Moulding turned 51 in February and made a decision that could go a long way to redress the balance when it comes to his personal image and that of the eCommerce giant that he founded.

His near 5,500 followers in LinkedIn will have noticed the entrepreneur has been a lot more active and candid in recent weeks than he’s ever been before.

From his possible ADHD to the impact his coffee obsession was having on his health, it’s fair to say the father-of-four has never been more open than he is now in his regular LinkedIn posts.

To understand what’s behind the new approach it’s important to provide a quick recap.

In 2020 THG floated on the stock market to much fanfare at a share price of 500p.

Those heady days seem like a lifetime ago and it’s fair to say the newly created unicorn has received a bit of a kicking ever since from investors and sections of the media.

The company has grown through a strategy of aggressive acquisition but as its share price fell – it currently stands at around 60p – so scrutiny of Moulding’s leadership style began to intensify.

Investors didn’t like the fact that he operated as both the CEO and executive chair or the fact that he had a ‘special share’ – referred to as a ‘golden share’ – which potentially allowed him to block a hostile takeover.

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Things reached a nadir in 2021 when THG held a capital markets day, which turned into a PR and financial disaster and the company’s share price bombed.

Not even the fact that Moulding gave up his ‘special share’ rights and beefed up the corporate governance could stem the flood of negative stories.

Moulding’s approach was consistent. “Sit tight, maintain a British stiff upper lip, and accept it – it’s part of public life,” he subsequently wrote in one of his recent LinkedIn blogs. “We’ve followed that advice, no matter what came our way.

“The norm with negative stories against listed companies is their share prices fall, it’s just a matter of by how much. This is a level of predictability you can bet your house on!”

The liberal use of topless Instagram photos of gym-loving Moulding on holidays by the media added to the narrative that he’d done very well out of the IPO.

However Moulding’s recent 51st birthday seems to have been a watershed moment when the gloves finally came off.

“This time last year, it felt like there had barely been a day where either me or THG hadn’t featured in the papers,” he wrote on LinkedIn.

“We were under siege on a daily basis, as were my family and many people at THG. I accept that negativity comes with the territory, but seeing it forced onto loved ones stirs a whole different emotion.

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“A particularly low point was seeing my mum being mocked by some in the business media. Her crime? She apparently emailed a journalist to ask if they had anything else of interest to write about. Apparently that’s not the done thing.”

His mother reportedly contacted The Sunday Times journalist Oliver Shah over the paper’s negativity towards her son, adding: “You must lead very dreary lives in your dead-end jobs.”

Moulding asked his mother why she did it and joked that her precise choice of words weren’t appropriate for LinkedIn!

“Seeing things affect my family like this meant that I had to make a change and speak up,” he wrote.

“And so, for the year ahead, it’s more gym and Spanish lessons every day… and more LinkedIn posts – if only to keep Mama Moulding from taking matters into her own hands.”

Moulding recently used his LinkedIn platform to reveal that Gary Neville is using THG’s studio to film his show The Overlap.

However, what’s been more telling is Moulding’s level of openness, including talking about his 12-year-old son’s recent operation at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital.

“His operation clashed with our monthly PLC board meet,” he wrote. “I never thought to switch the board meet date as diary dates and NED travel are booked many months in advance. So, I headed off to work as usual while (my wife) Jodie did the hard yards at the hospital.

“One of the biggest downsides of my relationship with THG is that I’m rarely at the hospital for these things. No excuses really, we should all do better to step up and prioritise family over work, especially at key moments. I will do better.

“However, I am super blessed. If I ever get down thinking about any injustices in the world, I get to walk through my front door every single day and be greeted by a true warrior in our 12-year-old.

“Very few have this in their lives, and it doesn’t half give you that extra bit of motivation that most people will never have.

“I’ve found the single best way of handling any challenges is to view them as an afront against loved ones, instead of myself. It moves my mindset from ‘victim’ to ‘protector’.

“I didn’t miss a day at the hospital for nothing, and so I will make it count.”

Moulding has also used his LinkedIn blog to champion members of THG’s staff as well his addiction to coffee.

“My mum even confessed to Jodie that she used to put coffee in my bottle when I was a baby,” he recalled. “For years, it would have been four or five triple shot flat whites each day. This stepped up to 10 triple shot flat whites a day since IPO (yup, 30 shots of caffeine each day).”

However a blood test with THG’s in-house GP found his cholesterol was ‘off the charts’ so he cut out all coffee. “Five weeks later, I’ve had another medical,’ he revealed. “This time, the cholesterol readings have almost halved to now below normal levels.”

So is Moulding’s new-found openness making a difference?

THG’s share price of 60p is nearly twice as high as its 32p low point in October 2022 but it’s still a far cry from its launch price of 500p.

What is probably a better measure is the level of engagement and broadly favourable comments his posts are attracting.

Ultimately the only way to silence unhappy investors and sections of the media will be in THG’s trading performance, but what is clear is that Moulding’s days of showing a stiff upper lip to the brickbats are over.

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