Losses widen at AO Group as it pursues expansion across Europe

Online electrical retailer AO World has slipped further into the red in its full-year results, amid trading losses in Germany, but insisted that it is looking forward to further expansion over the coming 12 months.

Picture: AO.com

It also announced the appointment of Geoff Cooper as chairman, who said he intends to “further deliver the strategy the company has set out”.

The firm said its operating loss grew to £10.6 million in the year to 31 March, from £2.2m 12 months previously, and the result of a £12.4m operating profit in the UK being outweighed by a £23m loss in Europe. The £10.6m figure also includes start-up costs in Europe of £2.3m.

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However, total revenue increased by 25.7 per cent to £599.2m “as UK growth continued and the German business gained traction with customers”.

Chief executive John Roberts said: “It’s been another year of great progress for AO. We have continued on our journey to become the best electrical retailer in Europe, having grown our market share in all our categories and expanded the AO brand into our next country, the Netherlands.

“We are growing the business as fast as we can safely; expanding in our chosen categories and countries, whilst keeping a tight grip on our culture.”

He also noted that the firm is launching into computing this year, saying this is “an exciting opportunity for the business”.

Announcing the appointment of Cooper, AO World said he will take over from Richard Rose who will stand down next month after eight years in the role.

The new chairman will be appointed as a non-executive director effective 1 July and is currently chairman of Card Factory and private firm Bourne Leisure. He previously held executive positions at Travis Perkins and Alliance UniChem (subsequently Alliance Boots), and was non-executive chair at Dunelm for 11 years before retiring in July.

Cooper said: “AO has the strong foundations required for sustainable, long-term success and I am excited by the opportunity to chair the business as it continues its expansion.”

In terms of outlook, AO World said trading in the current financial year has “started well” and it added: “Whilst we are mindful of the recent softening of UK consumer confidence and the recent reduction in property transactions, and in Europe we are in still in a start-up phase, the board remains confident in the long-term prospects of the group.”