Clipper Logistics, the firm that distributes goods for blue chip retailers such as Asda, Morrisons, John Lewis and Asos, is to raise £65m in a flotation that will value the business at around £130m.
The Leeds-based firm, set up by former lorry driver Steve Parkin, said the cash will be used to fund the group’s ambitious plans for European expansion.
The group is keen to follow clients as they expand into the Continent.
Unlike recent online retail floats, such as Boohoo.com, Clipper has been profitable for years and the group is confident it can harness the growing popularity of online shopping.
Clipper’s finance director David Hodkin said one of the group’s main strengths is its ability to deal speedily and efficiently with returns.
One of the biggest challenges facing online retailers is that 25 to 40 per cent of all clothing and footwear sales are returned.
“We see return management as the battleground for retailers going forward,” said Mr Hodkin.
“If you order online your credit card is debited immediately. You want returns management to be as slick. Traditional warehouses are not geared up to receive individual returned items. It’s an area where retailers need support services.”
Retailers are becoming increasingly aware that one bad experience can be broadcast to thousands on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, which can damage their prospects in the future.
Clipper works closely with its customers to ensure that each retailer gets a service that is tailor made to suit their needs.
The group’s market leading position has been recognised by the retail industry and it has won Retail Week Supply Chain awards for the past three years.
The UK has one of the highest rates of internet and smartphone penetration in Western Europe and this is expected to increase in coming years.
The proportion of online sales as a percentage of total retail sales in the UK is already one of the highest in the world and online UK sales are predicted to continue to grow rapidly to a value of £125bn by 2022.
Founder Mr Parkin will sell half of his 80 per cent stake in the float.