Moulding’s Lost Billionaire Status Talks of The Hut’s Own Ordeal
Matthew Moulding has tumbled from the ranks of the world’s billionaires as the troubles swirling around THG Plc, the online retailer he co-founded 17 years ago, show no sign of abating.
Shares in THG, formerly The Hut Group, lost almost a third of their value last week to trade at an all-time low as investors continued to doubt the Manchester-based company’s prospects. That left Moulding’s personal fortune at about $950 million, down from more than $3 billion in early 2021, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. A spokesman for THG declined to comment.
The drop in Moulding’s wealth underscores how quickly the THG story has unraveled. Since a $2.4 billion initial public offering little more than a year ago, a combination of corporate-governance concerns -- centering on Moulding’s own levels of control -- and skepticism about its Ingenuity e-commerce unit have battered investor confidence.
The shares were little changed at 217.2 pence as of 11:33 a.m. Monday in London, following last week’s loss of more than 31%. They traded at 637.5 pence as recently as Sept. 1.
A former accountant, Moulding, 49, co-founded THG with John Gallemore in 2004 as an e-commerce businesses selling CDs and DVDs. As the digital-music boom began to threaten that model, he moved into nutrition and beauty products. The company’s best-selling brands include Lookfantastic and Myprotein.
The governance concerns dogging THG have revolved around Moulding’s multiple roles at the company. As well as being chief executive officer and executive chairman, he’s also a major shareholder and a landlord for THG’s properties.
To counter the concerns, Moulding agreed last month to give up his “golden share,” which could have allowed him to block any takeover, while the company hired a recruitment firm to start the search for an independent chair. He has also given away 100 million pounds of his stake in THG this year, reducing it to about 20%.
In another effort to appease investors, THG said last month that Moulding and his wife Jodie no longer have any of their shares in the company pledged as security against a 100 million-pound personal loan from Barclays Plc. Though only partially drawn down, the loan raised eyebrows because Barclays could take a direct stake of 18.8% of the business in the event of a default.
But what’s dogged THG as much as anything is the worry about Ingenuity, the unit that helps brands sell goods online by offering services from building websites to fraud detection. THG said in a trading update Tuesday that Ingenuity will generate revenue of 108 million pounds to 112 million pounds ($149 million to $154 million) next year, an increase of as much as 25% on the previous forecast. That didn’t stop the shares slipping 21% on the day.
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