Glasses Direct sets its sights on UK flotation

Michael Bow
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GLASSES Direct, the online spectacle retailer founded by a university student nearly a decade ago, has set its sights on a stock market float after appointing advisers to work on plans.

The company, founded by Jamie Murray Wells in his parents’ living room in 2004, has retained technology investment bankers GP Bullhound to explore financing options, including a market listing, the company said.

GP, based in London, previously advised the company on a private equity fundraising round to fund the acquisition of Nordic online contact lenses retailer LensOn in December 2012.

The appointment follows a healthy year of profits for Glasses Direct’s parent company, which posted groupwide sales of €35m (£29.9m) and operating profits of €200,000 for the year ending April 2013. On Friday it also announced a rebrand of the company to The Group, which will house its main four brands, including Glasses Direct.

A float in London for the Wiltshire-based company, now headed by chief executive Kevin Cornils, could value the firm at up to £100m on a conservative three-times earnings multiple with profits. It has enjoyed a steady rise to success since its founding by Wells, the company’s biggest shareholder, and now says it ships 2,000 pairs of glasses or contact lenses every day.