Electricals retailer AO seeks £60m in flotation

AO.com CEO John Roberts. Picture: ContributedAO.com CEO John Roberts. Picture: Contributed
AO.com CEO John Roberts. Picture: Contributed
ONLINE appliances retailer AO has unveiled plans to float on the London market next month in a move that could net its founder a £400 million windfall.

The Bolton-based firm was launched in 2000 by chief executive John Roberts, who remains its largest shareholder with a 40 per cent stake. AO, which now commands about 24 per cent of the market for online sales of large appliances such as fridges and washing machines, is seeking to raise about £60m through the float, which could value the business at about £1 billion.

The company has also appointed Brian McBride, the Scots-born chairman of internet fashion outfit Asos, as its senior independent director. McBride, an adviser with Scottish Equity Partners, is a former director of Celtic Football Club and spent five years at the helm of Amazon’s operations in the UK.

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Other non-executives include Marisa Cassoni, the former John Lewis finance director, and Bill Holroyd, who has previously invested in Positive Solutions, the independent financial adviser network that was sold by

Edinburgh-based pensions group Aegon UK last year.

Unveiling its float plans, AO said revenues increased at an annual growth rate of almost 30 per cent to £275.5m between 2011 and 2013, with underlying pre-tax profits rising 57 per cent to £10.7m.

Roberts said: “AO has a strong track record of revenue growth and profitability and I am excited about the opportunities ahead as we continue to grow our new AO.com brand.

“A London listing will give us the platform to continue to grow our business. Ultimately, it is our ambition to be a leading European online electrical retailer.”

Along with plans to grow its product range with the introduction of large televisions, Roberts said he was keen to make a move into the Germany, where online sales account for about 13 per cent of the £6.6bn market for large domestic appliances, before looking at further European expansion.

The company also sells white goods for the likes of Boots, House of Fraser and Next.