The council’s cabinet approved the loan facility to an entity indirectly controlled by The Hut Group founder Matthew Moulding last year and the e-commerce firm has drawn down £152m so far, according to a report to the authority’s audit and corporate governance committee.
The seven-year, £202m loan facility, first reported by the Financial Times, was granted to Icon 3 Holdco in October.
That company lists The Hut Group’s legal director James Pochin and chief financial officer and co-founder John Gallemore as its directors.
THG was founded in 2004 by Gallemore and Matthew Moulding and is valued at more than £2.5bn. Last September, THG started trading on the London Stock Exchange after raising £1.9bn in what was the UK’s largest IPO in five years.
The Warrington loan was used to facilitate the construction of new properties for THG’s use.
The size of the loan has surprised some commentators. Warrington Council’s next biggest commercial loan facility is £30m for a solar farm in York.
A Warrington Council spokesperson said: “Our objective is to secure good quality jobs for local residents and to support the local economy.
“This arrangement is secured against assets and The Hut Group, as one of Warrington’s largest employers, has brought in a significant number of jobs locally.”
The authority is no stranger to large investments of this nature.
Last year, Warrington Council forward funded the construction of BT’s Salford hub at New Bailey to the tune of £112m, as first revealed by Place North West.
THG’s facility is secured against properties at its Icon logistics park at Airport City, where the company is also planning to create a 17-acre global headquarters featuring more than 1m sq ft of offices.
The online beauty and lifestyle retailer owns brands including Myprotein, ESPA and Lookfantastic. THG has also branched out into hospitality in recent years, acquiring two hotels in Manchester and Hale Country Club and Spa in Trafford.
THG was contacted for comment by Place North West.