THE COUNTY Council is set to earn a profit after their investment in Moonpig paid off.

Hampshire County Council was one of the early investors in the online greetings card firm, which today (Tuesday) debuted on the stock market and saw its shares surge.

The authority's pension scheme, which has 178,000 members, is one of the winners of the move as it plans to sell its shares and scoop a profit, according to This is Money.

Moonpig is valued at £1.2 billion after seeing a surge in new customers during the Covid pandemic.

Its initial public offering saw shares cost 350p, but the stock surged by more than a quarter as conditional dealings kicked off, with shares opening as high as 450p.

Unconditional trading will begin on February 5.

Moonpig placed £491.2 million of shares on the market – around 41 per cent of the group – raising gross proceeds of £20 million.

The firm – backed by Exponent Private Equity Partners, which owns a 41.3 per cent stake – first revealed it was considering an initial public offering (IPO) in early January as it looks to expand and capitalise on the surge in demand for online cards and gifts amid the coronavirus pandemic.

It comes amid a rush of IPOs as firms look to take advantage of stock market optimism over vaccines, with renowned footwear brand Dr Martens launching on the stock market last Friday with a £3.7 billion valuation.

Takeaway delivery firm Deliveroo is also targeting a potential stock market flotation later this year, having recently been valued at more than seven billion dollars (£5.1 billion) following a new funding round.

Moonpig is eyeing a place in London’s FTSE 250 Index with its IPO.

Nickyl Raithatha, chief executive of Moonpig Group, said: “Listing on the London Stock Exchange is an incredibly special milestone and will provide new opportunities for the business.

“As the leaders of a market undergoing an accelerating shift to online, now is the perfect time for us to bring the company to the public market and we are excited about Moonpig’s prospects for the future.”

Moonpig chairwoman and former WH Smith boss Kate Swann is helping oversee the listing as the company seeks to tap further into a cards and gifts market which is worth £24 billion across the UK, Netherlands and Ireland, and is rapidly switching online.

The firm said only around 10 per cent of card purchases were made online in 2019, which is forecast to double to 20 per cent by 2021.

Moonpig already has 12.2 million customers and sends 46 million cards a year but is trying to position itself as a technology business, using customer data and predictive technology.

Bosses hope harvesting customer data will help remind them of birthdays and cash in on additional gifts.

The firm recently said the sale of gifts alongside cards – such as flowers, wine and chocolates – is also “critical” to the group and is now almost half of the business.