THG’s founder Matt Moulding has likened building the online retail giant to the film DodgeBall and the Netflix series Squid Game.
The CEO of the global giant was speaking after THG published its Q4 results yesterday, which showed a year of record profitability.
THG operates three distinct businesses in THG Beauty, THG Nutrition and THG Ingenuity.
THG Beauty was up 2.6 per cent; THG Ingenuity was up 8.1 per cent; and THG Nutrition was down 3.9 per cent, which combined for group revenue grow of 1.1 per cent.
Group adjusted EBITDA was up at least 75 per cent compared to 2022 while the company also reported a positive cashflow of around £170m, up from £96m in the previous 12 months.
In a statement to the market Moulding said: “Arguably the most pleasing performance came from our recently automated global fulfilment network.
“Q4 order volumes were delivered in record times, with average global delivery times reduced by one day. These widespread service improvements were achieved alongside a meaningful reduction in the cost of fulfilment.”
However, in a typically honest LinkedIn blog, the CEO explained the challenges of building a global business.
He said: “It’s easy to feel like we’ve just spent the last few years firefighting – the world has thrown never-ending challenges at everybody.
“On a good day, building THG is like a game of DodgeBall (great film!). On a bad day it’s more like Squid Game for entrepreneurs. Throw in being listed in the UK, and it’s like wearing a mermaid suit, with both arms tied behind your back.”
Squid Game is a hit South Korean TV series which shows cash-strapped contestants risk their lives by playing a series of deadly games to win a huge cash prize.
Moulding wrote: “Like in Squid Game, there were a raft of business casualties last year, albeit those affected in 2023 were very different. Rapidly rising interest rates caused a scarcity of both capital and debt, especially in the UK.
“Since 2000, digital/growth companies have relied on a steady flow of finance, using it to invest in technology and infrastructure, disrupting sectors and markets.
“When global finance dried up in 2023, it caught many off-guard, unable to adapt their models to a new world. Cash quickly ran out for many.
“Market changes were so fast that even the world’s major bank to the digital sector – Silicon Valley Bank – went bust!
“The result is that 2023 has decimated the UK’s critically important digital sector. So much so, talk of a digital tax is a distant memory.”
He said major UK players like global fashion platform FARFETCH; UK online car retailer Cazoo; luxury clothing site Matchesfashion; and Made.com had been ‘felled like giant Canadian Redwood trees’.
“These are just some of the big UK names,” wrote Moulding. “There were many more, lower profile, digital companies who met with a similar fate.
“At the end of each year, I do a big staff presentation. I always prepare a video to go back and talk about the year. The staff presentation and today’s RNS (Regulatory News Service) have been like therapy for me, a real reminder of what THG delivered in another year of chaos.”
Moulding also revealed that Ingenuity Commerce is set to partner with Holland & Barrett, the UK’s largest wellness retailer.