Community-owned social ecommerce platform WeShop has handed out its first share buybacks, with one shopper netting £9,000, but the UK tech firm revealed it is putting back its flotation plans due to stock market turbulence.
The world’s first shoppable social network, which is owned by customers, is pushing back its listing to the end of the year, if market conditions allow, having originally planned to float by July.
Chairman Richard Griffiths told the PA news agency the delay is due to market volatility sparked by the collapse of US lender Silicon Valley Bank in March.
It may even reconsider choosing the Nasdaq tech-heavy index in New York for its initial public offering (IPO), given the IT sector shake-up in America that has seen valuations plummet and tens of thousands of workers laid off across the likes of Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Facebook owner Meta.
This could see the group turn instead to the London market, although Mr Griffiths said the Nasdaq is still the firm’s top choice and he is working towards a trial launch of the platform in the US during the third quarter, ahead of its expected IPO.
“The technology sector is very difficult and the Nasdaq is not performing as well as it has done.”
He added that while WeShop is still hopeful of a 2023 stock market debut, it will review the plans if it is “not the right moment”.
But he insisted WeShop will continue offering to buy back shares from shoppers regardless of the listing plans, with the first payments already made.
It said it has made around a dozen share buybacks for shoppers who were involved in the trial before it launched officially last July.
One shopper was handed a hefty £9,000 for purchases via the platform and referrals, with the lowest payout standing at £250.
WeShop gives shares in the business to shoppers on the platform, offering them 20% of every purchase price as investment shares, which they can cash in after 12 months of ownership.
It is ultimately planning to give away up to 90% of its business to shoppers, with the aim of having its shares publicly listed on the stock market to take on the might of retail titans such as Amazon.
The group – whose backers including Cazoo founder and boss Alex Chesterman, Betfair co-founder Andrew Black and former Formula One driver Nigel Mansell and his son Leo – is planning to launch an advertising campaign across social media and on television over the summer.
It now has around 115,000 registered users and more than £14 million of purchases have been made through the platform.