Brit tech boss turns 74 staff into millionaires with £1bn gift of free shares

A tech boss says his firm has turned 74 workers into millionaires after they were gifted free shares in a £1billion scheme.

Matt Moulding, founder of The Hut Group, claimed the company has created more millionaires than any other in British corporate history.

The Manchester-based business has set aside nearly £1billion worth of shares for staff, with about £175million yet to be handed out.

And it means the number of millionaires it has created is set to rise even further, the Mirror reports.

He revealed around 430 employees have received free shares so far, ranging from managers to warehouse workers and secretaries.

Mr Moulding told the Mirror: “We have created more millionaires than any other company in British corporate history.

“The shares are 100% gifted, no-one has had to pay anything.

“We have genuinely changed so many lives.”

Some of those benefiting from the £175million will be graduates and school leavers who will get “life changing sums,” he added.

The 48-year-old has enjoyed his own life changing surge in wealth after building The Hut Group into one of Britain’s biggest tech firms.

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His 25% stake is worth around £1.6billion and a surge in its share price triggered a £830million shares payout for him.

On the focus on his fortune, the dad-of-four said: “Look, I guess it’s to be expected in some form, but it’s not something I seek out.

“I am doing this because I’m passionate about it.

“There is a lot of focus around what my wealth might be, but the amount of money we have shared is off the chart.

Mr Moulding, who plans to donate his entire £750,000 salary to charity, was born in Colne near Burnley in Lancashire.

His first job was washing dishes, he was expelled from college for playing truant, became a factory hand, then started out selling CDs online before starting to run websites for other retailers.

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The Hut Group also sells everything from mascara to vegan protein bars.

It floated on the stock market in September, and is worth £6.3billion.

The firm’s stock market debut focused attention on Mr Moulding’s dual role as both chief executive and chairman.

He denied he was a control freak, and insisted the structure was common in a number of other big companies.

There have also been question marks about his retention of a “golden share” that allows him to veto any takeover.

He said: “It has one pursue, there is not another single other benefit to it, it allows me to veto a hostile takeover, an international business coming along and buying the business.

“It only lasts for three years in total and after that time we are at the mercy of the markets.”

Mr Moulding also revealed an ambition to create another 9,000 jobs – 3,000 a year – by 2023, nearly doubling in size.

The company’s workforce has already grown rapidly, with numbers expected to have gone from 7,000 to 10,000 this year.

“It wasn’t that long ago we had 1,000 employees,” said Mr Moulding.

It came as The Hut Group announced active customers totalled over 1.7 million in November, a 74% surge year on year, boosted by Black Friday.

Full-year revenue is now expected to be between 38% and 40% higher, compared to the previous guidance of 30% to 33% growth.

An announcement is expected later this week on new investment in its manufacturing operations.

Mr Moulding spoke of the importance remaining close to its roots.

Its sprawling headquarters campus is next to Manchester Airport.

“Once you set up somewhere, you almost get a siege mentality with the people around you,” he said.

“I think the UK is spectacular at generating small start-ups."

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