Bath glasses design firm confirms £138m stock market listing is in the frame

February 14, 2020

Inspecs, the fast-growing Bath eyewear design house, has confirmed it is looking to float on the London Stock Exchange in a move that could value the business at £138m.

The firm, set up in 1988 by former bond trader Robin Totterman after he failed to find a pair of glasses he liked, last week successfully placed 48.2m shares ahead of listing on the London Stock Exchange’s junior Alternative Investment Market (AIM) later this month.

The move has conditionally raised around £94m – with £23.5m going to the company for further expansion and £70.5m to shareholders who are selling their stock, including Mr Totterman, members of his family and around 60 staff based in Bath and its other offices.

Mr Totterman has retained a 26.7% holding in the business, which has grown substantially and last year made underlying profits of £6.2m on sales of £45m.

Inspecs, whose chairman is former Tesco boss and City grandee Lord MacLaurin, produces 8m frames annually from six factories in London, Italy, China and Vietnam under license for customers spanning global optical and non-optical retailers, international distributors and independent opticians such as Superdry, HYPE, O’Neill, Radley, CATERPILLAR and Farah. It also supplies private label and house brands.

Its distribution network covers more than 80 countries and reaches around 30,000 points of sale. In the 2018 financial year it generated 77.2% overseas.

Bath Business News reported last summer that the firm, based in Bath’s old Gas Light and Coke building on Upper Bristol Road, was mulling a flotation.

Confirming the move, the firm this week said it planned to use the proceeds to continue to grow organically as well as undertake further acquisitions and extend its manufacturing capacity.

Its earnings have soared from $1.5m in the 2016 financial year to $11.9m in 2018. Its latest results show underlying earnings reached $6.6million in the first half of 2019.

The group is also highly cash generative, helping it reduce net debt from $24.2m at the end of 2017 – a period immediately following the acquisition of Hong Kong-based spectacles manufacturer Killine for £23.3m – to $14.1m at June 30 last year.

Mr Totterman, 58, and his family owned around 60% of the company, which last year won the Sunday Times Fast Track Profit 100 ‘Ones to Watch’ title. The league table ranks Britain’s private companies with the fastest-growing operating profits.

The firm was also named as the ‘number 1 business to watch’ last year in a ranking of the UK’s best-performing private companies.

At the time Mr Totterman said having factories in Vietnam, China and the East End of London made the firm one of the few competitors to the all-powerful Italian conglomerates. 

He also said he had “Brexit-proofed” the company two years earlier by establishing a second European HQ in Lisbon.

The group produces a broad range of frames, covering optical, sunglasses and safety, predominantly as mid-market and entry-level priced products. It is one of only a few companies that can offer such a one-stop shop solution to global retail chains



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