United Kingdom

Giggling Squid restaurant chain among 80 firms set to float

One of Britain's largest Thai restaurant chains is reviving plans for a stock market float amid a huge wave of listings that will launch once the summer holiday season ends. 

Before the pandemic, Giggling Squid co-owner and chief executive Andy Laurillard said a flotation was something he'd 'love to do'.

However, the restaurant group was forced to close its restaurants during the lockdowns and tap Barclays for a £5million emergency Covid loan to secure the group's financial position. 

Fresh appetite: City sources say Giggling Squid is working on growth funding options – with a stock market listing one possibility

Now City sources say Giggling Squid is working on growth funding options – with a stock market listing one possibility. 

City brokers say it could be one of between 50 and 80 floats of companies worth more than £100million before the end of the year. 

Nearly £12billion has already been raised through 69 floats this year, according to Dealogic data. 

That means 2021 has already been the strongest Initial Public Offering (IPO) market since 2014 – and could surpass the £24.9billion raised in 2011. Giggling Squid was set up by Laurillard and his Thai wife, Pranee, in 2002 in a fishing cottage in Brighton. The hut became their first restaurant. 

The pair secured £6.4million from the Business Growth Fund in 2015 and they have gone on to grow the business significantly over the last decade. They now run 35 Thai food tapas restaurants across the South East. 

The Business Growth Fund – backed by Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds Banking Group, NatWest and Standard Chartered – was set up in the wake of the financial crash to help small and medium-sized firms. 

Other firms tipped to look at listing this autumn include online garden centre firm YouGarden and Marley, a roofing supplies firm. 

British biotech firm Oxford Nanopore is slated to float before the end of the year, with a potential bumper price tag of up to £7billion. 

This year's IPO deluge has seen a string of successful, high profile floats including cyber security firm Darktrace and online cards retailer Moonpig. However, takeaway delivery specialist Deliveroo became a float flop when investors baulked at its valuation. Overall, shares of newly listed firms are up 16 per cent on their float price. 

Numis co-chief executive Ross Mitchinson said: 'There are a broad range of companies looking to list, including those which had planned to float pre-Covid, as well as digital disruptors and other companies which have fared relatively well during the pandemic. 

'The question will be how long it lasts, but at the moment appetite for IPOs looks good.' 

Phil Adams, chief executive at investment bank GCA Altium, said: 'September will be hectic. There are so many companies chasing the recent hot market that fund managers will have to be discerning.

'So not every IPO will get away or achieve the target valuation. We've seen a lot of tech and e-commerce stocks floating. But, if we can come through Covid, there may be recovery plays to invest in, in industries such as hospitality and travel too.'

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