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The Hut Group expands as it secures £14m investment

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Fast-growing online retailer The Hut Group has unveiled Gifted.com, its second new online business in a week, at the same time as it announced a new multimillion pound investment in the business.

The announcement that Gifted.com will launch in May, offering personalised gifts, comes just days after the launch of mybag.co.uk. At the same time The Hut Group said it had won £14m in investment from institutional investors ahead of a stockmarket flotation. The fundraising will see investors including Angus Monro, former Matalan chief executive, join the board of the five-year-old company.

Both of the new e-commerce sites are launched with the ambition of becoming market leaders in their field within two years. Their underlying strategy sees both lines of products, previously trialled on thehut.com, as key growth areas in online retail. It aims to capitalise on that potential by offering competitive prices and free delivery as standard. Up to 150 new jobs will be created as a result.

The Hut Group, founded in 2004 to sell fast-moving consumer goods from an online retailing platform, was ranked number one in the Sunday Times Tech Track 100 of fast-growing technology companies in 2009. Since launch it has grown turnover by more than 150% every year.

The new investment will be used to buy specialist online businesses that complement The Hut Group’s existing product range, Matthew Moulding, chief executive. He said the company was well-placed to benefit as retail moved online and added: “We are delighted to have completed such a unique fundraising where we have asked major financial institutions to step outside of the norm of publicly-listed companies and invest in a private company in advance of a flotation.”

Joining Angus Monro on The Hut Group board will be Iain McDonald of The William Currie Group and Mark Evans of Balderton Capital. Fund manager Artemis has also invested.

Our view: There’ve been a number of mooted and abandoned retail IPOs over the last year, among them notably New Look. But this news of both e-commerce launches and new investment ahead of an IPO could be a sign of renewed confidence in this sector.

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