Rent the Runway struts its market savvy as it raises $357 million in upsized IPO

Rent the Runway Inc. expanded its initial public offering and priced the shares at the top of a marketed range to raise $357 million.

The company sold 17 million shares Tuesday for $21 each after marketing 15 million shares for $18 to $21, according to a statement.

The listing gives Rent the Runway a market value of $1.3 billion based on the outstanding shares listed in its filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Accounting for employee stock options and similar holdings, the company would have a fully diluted value of about $1.5 billion.

That compares with a valuation of $870 million after a funding round completed in April, according to data provider PitchBook.

The New York-based company struggled to grow through the coronavirus pandemic as lockdowns gave people little reason to dress up. The spread of the COVID-19 Delta variant and ongoing work-from-home trends have had minimal impact on its business and financial performance, the company said.

Subscriptions Rise

Rent the Runway reported a net loss of $85 million on $80 million in revenue for the six months ended July 31. That compared with a $88 million loss on $88.5 million in revenue during the same period a year ago.

While the company’s losses persisted, its subscription numbers increased. Its active subscribers more than doubled since Feb. 1 to almost 112,000 as of Sept. 30, according to the prospectus.

Founded by Jennifer Hyman and Jenny Fleiss, Rent the Runway was among the retail pioneers of what has been called the rentership society. The company now has more competition in the U.S., though, including from platforms such as Nuuly and Style Lend.

The rent-what-you-wear business model appeals to customers with tighter budgets who are eager to access high fashion they wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford. Wealthier shoppers also like it because it offers them more wardrobe variety and the chance to check out new brands. The services are particularly popular in big cities such as New York where closet space is often at a premium.

Galas, Weddings

Subscribers pay monthly membership fees that range from a base of $89 to $199 to rent fashionable dresses, accessories and other items for galas, weddings or business events that would cost several hundred dollars and more to own. Rent the Runway offers hundreds of brands. Shoppers can return those items and then order more or they can buy the products at a discount to the original price.

More than 80% of Rent the Runway’s revenue comes from subscribers, notes Sanford C. Bernstein analyst Luca Solca. While many have stuck with the company, some members have paused their subscriptions.

“Assuming Rent the Runway can continue to increase its (relatively small) base of subscribers,” Solca wrote in a research note, “this should in theory allow RTR to leverage its cost base and move to profit in the future.”

The IPO is being led by Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Morgan Stanley and Barclays Plc. The shares are expected to begin trading Wednesday on the Nasdaq Global Select Market under the symbol RENT.

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