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An online greeting cards retailer which has thrived during the coronavirus pandemic is exploring a stock market flotation that would crystallise big gains for its backers.

© Imagebridge The discussions are at an early stage and no decision has been taken yet by Exponent

Sky News has learnt that Moonpig Group, which has been owned by Exponent Private Equity since 2016, is in talks with investment banks about options that include a public listing.

© Getty Kate Swann is one of Britain’s most respected corporate bosses

The discussions are at an early stage and no decision has been taken yet by Exponent about whether to proceed with a float, according to insiders.

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Moonpig, which has built its brand in the UK through a spate of television of advertising campaigns, sells online greeting cards and gifts.

It has captured market share from high street rivals such as Clintons, and has seen sales and profits soar during the coronavirus crisis.

During the first two months of the UK-wide lockdown, the company claims to have added one ,million customers, and was the UK’s leading shopping app during the summer period.

It also trades in the Netherlands under the Greetz brand.

If it does opt for a float, it would mean a return to the stock market for Kate Swann, one of Britain’s most respected corporate bosses.

She ran WH Smith, where she confounded expectations by transforming the company’s financial and operating performance, before becoming chief executive of SSP Group, the travel catering business which has been forced to cut thousands of jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ms Swann also chairs the veterinary chain Independent Vetcare.

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Moonpig, which was previously part of Photobox Group, has seen sales increase to £172.8m this year, up 44%.

It recorded pre-tax profit of £33m, up 137%.

Exponent acquired the business from a syndicate of venture capital funds and individual shareholders.

A Moonpig Group spokesperson said: “As a high growth company we constantly evaluate our funding options, and regularly meet with advisers on this subject.”