AO set for £1bn stock floatation

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ONLINE appliances retailer AO has announced plans to float on the stock market next month netting its founder an expected £400m windfall.

The share offering is expected to value the Bolton-based firm at around £1bn, 14 years after it was started by kitchen appliances sales executive John Roberts, who now owns a 40 per cent stake.

Since then it has grown to take a 24 per cent share of the online market for major domestic appliances in the UK – with the bulk in sales through its own website and the rest through third parties. The site sells appliances such as washing machines, tumble dryers, dishwashers, fridges and cookers.

Mr Roberts said: “We aim to put the customer first in everything we do and are fanatical about offering customers amazing service and competitive pricing.

“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.”

The company said that selling shareholders in the float would include directors, investors and senior management who had supported its growth to date.

In an interview last year, Mr Roberts described how AO cut out the “convoluted” supply chain involving a series of distributors to sell directly from manufacturers to consumers. He said the brand initially competed by heavily undercutting the likes of Currys and Comet but later began to focus more on service.

Sales hit £275m in the year ending March 2013.