Fast fashion retailer Shein doubles profits as it awaits IPO approval

Shein, the online fast fashion retailer founded in China, has more than doubled its profits to more than $2bn (£1.6bn) as it awaits approval for a stock market listing in New York or London.

The company, which is growing rapidly around the world by using social media to promote its goods, recorded sales of about $45bn last year, according to a report in the Financial Times based on information from sources close to the company.

Shein, which has moved its headquarters to Singapore, is among the most profitable fashion companies in the world, the figures suggest, making more than the Swedish fashion group H&M and the UK’s Primark and Next. However, profits at Inditex, the Spanish owner of Zara, Bershka and Massimo Dutti, remain higher at €6.9bn (£5.9bn) last year.

The UK chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, reportedly held talks with the Shein boss, Donald Tang, in February to try to persuade him to float the company on the London Stock Exchange. The company is thought to be considering a London listing because it believes that the US Securities and Exchange Commission is unlikely to approve its initial public offering (IPO). If it were to go ahead, it would be one of London’s biggest ever corporate listings, valued at up to $90bn.

The rapid rise of Shein, which bought the Missguided online brand from Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group last year after recording sales of £1.1bn in 2022 for its UK entity, has piled pressure on UK online fashion specialists including Asos and Boohoo. The new competitor is gaining ground just as the UK online groups grapple with a squeeze in the market after the pandemic boom.

Shein partly benefits from sending goods directly to shoppers, including to the UK and US, from China so they attract fewer taxes. The tactic has proved controversial, prompting calls for a change in tax rules.

Founded by the entrepreneur Chris Xu, the company continues to run most of its operations from China but sells all its goods outside the country. It reached a valuation of $100bn in an April 2022 fundraising round, making it the third most valuable startup in the world.

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By May last year the company’s value had dropped to just over $60bn, but Shein has reportedly told investors it is hoping for a valuation of as much as $90bn if it goes ahead with a public listing. Shein declined to comment.


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