On Wednesday morning, eCommerce giant The Hut Group made a spectacular debut on the London Stock Exchange. 

After early trading, media headlines trumpeted that it was the biggest stock market debut since Royal Mail in 2013 and had raised £1.88 billion, valuing the Manchester firm at £5.4bn. 

It was the largest ever eCommerce listing in Europe, by capital raised, ahead of AO World (£487m) and Zalando (£411m) in 2014It was also the second-largest tech IPO in London after Worldpay (£2.5bn) in 2015. 

Based on market capitalisation of company at listing, it was the largest tech IPO seen in London. 

The share price, which at one point hit 658p – valuing THG at £7.1bn  has stabilised at around 620p, far ahead of the offer price of 500p. 

Cornerstone investors ahead of the public listing included VC heavyweights BlackRock, Henderson Global Investors, Merian Global Investors and Qatar Investment Authority. 

They were impressed by THG’s white label ‘end-to-end’ eCommerce solution, which powers the online logistics of Johnson & Johnson, Coca-Cola, Nestle, Procter & Gamble and Walgreens Boots Alliance, among others, and includes trading, marketing and brand strategy services. 

It also has its own lifestyle brands – sports nutrition firm Myprotein and makeup lines Lookfantasic and Illamasq – and sells third-party branded products such as those made by Glossybox and LookFantastic, Lego and Levi’s through its websites. Last year the firm reported revenue of £1.1bn, up 24.5% year-on-year. 

Between them, THG’s existing shareholders made an estimated £961m by selling down their stakes, with co-founder, CEO and chairman Matthew Moulding raking in £54m and now officially a billionaire thanks to his retained stake. 

According to a Sky News report, he is reinvesting that £54m “as part of a restructuring of the group’s property portfolio that will see him become its landlord”. 

Wednesday was an especially good day for the city, with an array of bankers, brokers and advisers who worked on the IPO sharing an estimated £50m in fees. 

The successful THG float came against a backdrop of just nine IPOs in the COVID-19-affected first half of 2020, which raised only £666m between them. 

That compared with £3.2bn for the whole of 2019 – and that year was the worst for stock market flotations in a decade, with just 35 taking place. 

Tech is the fourth largest sector on the LSE, representing around 11% of the total market capitalisation of listed companies. That has almost quadrupled in size over the last five years.