A full guide to Victorian Plumbing after its IPO

Victorian Plumbing hit a record £850m market capitalisation upon admission to the Alternative Investment Market in June 2021. So what made this Liverpool-based firm such a success?

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What does Victorian Plumbing do?

There is nothing complex about Victorian Plumbing. Often, when writing about IPOs on these pages, we are required to explain, or attempt to explain some niche technology that is sometimes hard to wrap your head around.

With Victorian Plumbing, it’s all about online bathroom supplies: showers, basins, toilets and so on. Oh, and tiles. Lots of them too.

The resilience of certain sectors during the year-plus of pandemic adjustments has certainly had its winners – and families who haven’t spent money on holidays have built up cash reserves for home improvements: loft conversions, refurbished basements, a new garden shed doubling up as a home office. And bathrooms of course.

With a share of about 14% of the £1.2bn market for sanitary ware and accessories in the UK, Victorian Plumbing is the largest online participant in the space.

Is Victorian Plumbing profitable?

Victorian Plumbing posts healthy profits year-on-year, and those profits are becoming ever more substantial.

It could be said that 2019 was something of a breakthrough year. Revenue grew by 28% to hit £118m. But profit was particularly impressive, rising from £3.5m to £10.1m. In the year to September 2020, revenue almost doubled to £208.7m and profits surged again, to £26.2m.

Most recent accounts show that in the six months to March 31, 2021, it produced even better figures, with revenue of £140.7m, and earnings of £20.1m.

What happened in the Victoria Plumbing IPO?

Victorian Plumbing's float proved a financial windfall for chief executive Mark Radcliffe, who founded the company in 2000. Prior to IPO, Radcliffe, 42, held a 74% stake while his brother Neil has 14% and his mother 4%.

A born entrepreneur, Mark earned his first million setting up First2save, a mobile phone accessories business, from his parents' shed. 

Shares surged around 20% on their first day of trading, valuing the company in excess of £1bn and official setting a new record benchmark for the AIM, London’s junior market.

Victorian Plumbing raised just £11.6m in new money, which was used mostly to cover the costs of the flotation. But its £850m market capitalisation upon admission was enough to seal its place as the largest company to list on the Alternative Investment Market.

Shares climbed as much as a quarter to 329p on the day of the float, before falling back to 321p in late afternoon trade.

What was the reaction to the Victoria Plumbing IPO?

Radcliffe raised £212m selling a portion of his own holding at 262p a share and described the float as a “landmark day”. He still owns a 45% stake.

At 275p a share as of July 19, 2021 are down around 16% from their peak at launch.

Who are the directors of Victorian Plumbing?

Victorian Plumbing has five directors, as follows:
  • Philip Bowcock, Chair
  • Mark Radcliffe, CEO
  • Paul Meehan, CFO 
  • Damian Sanders, Senior Independent Non-Executive Director
  • Kath Smith, Independent Non-Executive Director
Victorian Plumbing has five people in its senior leadership team, which is led by MD Stephnie Judge. She joined the company in 2013 as a personal assistant before earning promotion to take over the role from Radcliffe on March 1, 2020.

She is assisted by:
  • Neil Radcliffe, Product Director
  • Rich Monaghan, Director of Finance
  • Joe Pascoe, CMO
  • Leighan Mason, CTO

What is Victorian Plumbing’s business strategy?

Victorian Plumbing has no physical retail footprint, stocking its products in central warehouses and delivering to homes.

Around 86% of sales are to retail customers, with the company now looking to increase its sales to trade customers.

Radcliffe is also keen to widen his range to include lighting products and to expand into Europe. Ireland, France, Spain and Germany are the logical markets to explore assuming post-Brexit bureaucracy can be comfortably negotiated.

Victorian Plumbing has already prospered on the increasing willingness of customers to trust online enterprises for the purchase of bulky domestic hardware. Ecommerce specialists now account for about 29% big DIY chains, steadily eating in to the market share of big DIY stores (36%).

Around three-quarters of Victorian Plumbing’s sales coming from own-brand products such as Chatsworth and Arezzo, which allows for higher gross margins.

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