Vegan foodmaker Huel hires bankers to advise on its IPO

Plant-based foodmaker Huel has consulted bankers to advise on a stock market listing in London thanks to rising demand for its products from fitness-focused customers.

The company, which makes “complete food” powders, drinks, and snacks, said it is exploring its options, with an initial public offering (IPO) being its preferred choice to fund future growth.

It is currently working with Goldman Sachs (GS) and JPMorgan (JPM), with a potential flotation taking place as soon as next year. The move could value it at up to £1bn ($1.33bn).

The banks are also advising on a potential sale of the business in a dual-track process.

It comes amid a growing demand for plant-based meal replacements and a fitness boom during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Huel’s products are made from plant ingredients such as oats, coconut and flax seeds, containing as many as 26 essential vitamins and minerals, it says.

Its vegan and lactose-free ingredients have been a hit with health-conscious millennials in particular. The company website claims loyal customers, known as “Hueligans”, who use Huel products can save themselves five hours of meal preparation time a week.

The Hertfordshire-based was established in 2015 by Julian Hearn, who holds a 53% stake in the firm, after he sold Mash Up Media, an affiliate marketing company.

Read more: IPO Watch: WeTransfer sales hit €65m ahead of potential listing

Huel, or “human fuel”, has since taken off overseas, with recent expansions into the US, Japan, and continental Europe. A bulk of its revenue comes from online sales, including its subscription service.

The group posted revenue of £71.6m for the year to July 2020, up from £50.2m a year before, according to its most recent accounts filed at Companies House. Operating profit for the 12 months to July last year came in at £700,000.

Venture fund Highland Europe is a significant shareholder in the company, which invested £20m in 2018, valuing Huel at £220m at the time.