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Investors Show Appetite for Specialist Retailers

August 05, 2019, 08:45 AM
Filed Under: Retail

A more positive news story appeared last week amid the seemingly interminable flow of negativity enveloping the retail industry. An S&P Global Market Intelligence analysis found a sharp uptick in U.S. retail IPOs in the first half of 2019 — a twofold increase by volume and almost a threefold jump by value year over year.

It must be noted that these companies are modest in size and as is the sample pool. The 10 IPOs generated gross proceeds of $3.10 billion, less than half the amount Uber Technologies Inc. raised from its listing in May.

But the data indicates a commonality in the type of retail offerings gaining traction with investors: specialism. It is the tie that binds many of the 2019 retail IPOs. Chewy Inc., the largest of the group, is one of the few online-only pet supplies operators, and it has struck on a happy confluence of a shift in consumer spending trends and industry structures. Another, The RealReal Inc., has carved out a niche in reselling luxury goods that have been individually verified as genuine. Revolve Group Inc., whose share price has almost doubled since its listing, targets millennials with a technology-enabled fashion offering that prefers social media influencers over traditional advertising.

Department stores may be shuttering by the day, but the IPOs of 2019 show that investors are still willing to back retailers with a differentiated offering.

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