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AJ Bell founder to chair sports nutrition brand as it plots London float

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The founder of AJ Bell, one of Britain’s most successful retail investment platforms, is to take the helm of a fast-growing sports nutrition, health and wellness brand as it speeds towards a London listing.

Sky News has learnt that Andy Bell, who stepped down as chief executive of AJ Bell in 2022, is to become chairman of Liverpool-based Applied Nutrition.

His appointment is understood to have been ratified at a board meeting on Tuesday.

It will be Mr Bell’s first role since leaving the company he founded, with sources saying that he had already demonstrated his confidence in Applied Nutrition’s prospects by acquiring a shareholding in the company.

City insiders said that Mr Bell’s appointment would make an initial public offering of the 10-year-old company more credible, but cautioned that there was no certainty that one would take place.

Deutsche Numis, the investment bank, has been hired to advise on the potential for a float.

One source said a mooted £1bn valuation for the company was “highly speculative” and likely to be lower at the point of an IPO.

Founded by Thomas Ryder, Applied Nutrition is backed by JD Sports Fashion, which holds a stake of about 30%.

The remaining shares are understood to be owned by Steven Granite, the company’s chief operating officer.

Applied Nutrition formulates and makes premium supplements for professional athletes and gym enthusiasts.

It is the official nutrition partner of a range of English football clubs, including Premier League side Fulham and the Scottish Premiership side Glasgow Rangers.

The company, which sells its products in over 60 countries, also has partnerships with professional boxers, MMA stars and in sports including basketball, cycling and rugby league.

It is said to be in negotiation to sign up a further roster of prominent ambassadors in the coming weeks.

Applied Nutrition’s largest brands include ABE – All Black Everything – which is a pre-workout range now stocked by Walmart, the world’s biggest physical retailer and former owner of Asda.

Other products in its portfolio include BodyFuel, a hydration drink.

Applied Nutrition has seen rapid growth in recent years – and is heading towards a £100m sales milestone during the current financial year.

A significant chunk of that growth is expected to come from the US, where it has established a subsidiary in Texas.

Accounts for the year to the end of July last year disclosed a 74% rise in turnover to £61.2m, with earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation rising by 80% to £18.1m.

A successful listing for Applied Nutrition would represent a boost to the London Stock Exchange’s efforts to attract fast-growing companies to float.

Decisions by a growing number of companies to shift their listings to the US – with Paddy Power-owner Flutter Entertainment becoming the latest example – have cast a pall over the City.

Last year saw the number of companies going public in London halving, with proceeds raised from initial public offerings (IPOs) falling by 40% year on year.

The City regulator has responded by announcing plans to reform London’s listing rules, including by scrapping the standard and premium segments of the market.

Applied Nutrition declined to comment.

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