Electricals retailer AO boosted by jump in freezer and bread-maker sales

Sales of bread-makers and chest freezers have surged due to the coronavirus lockdown, the boss of online retailer AO has said.

The technology and white goods specialist said housebound shoppers have bought more kitchen appliances and technology to help them work from home during the pandemic.

AO World said lockdown measures implemented by the Government “created a unique set of circumstances, with customers forced to stay at home and relying on their electrical products like never before”.

Founder and chief executive John Roberts told the PA news agency that one of the retailer’s key challenges has been meeting soaring demand for some products.

“One challenge has just been getting hold of enough bread-makers to meet demand,” he said.

“We’ve also seen the return of people doing ‘big shops’ in supermarkets drive the need for chest freezers.

“We have seen people buy more items needed for their home office, so an increase in sales for home printers and laptops.”

AO World chief executive officer John Roberts (AO/PA)
AO World chief executive officer John Roberts (AO/PA)

High street retailers have come under significant pressure in recent months after the Government told non-essential retailers, which includes electronics shops, to shut their doors in March.

Mr Roberts said the new lockdown measures meant that the market moved “100% online overnight”.

He said he does not believe the proportion of sales made by online retailers will shrink back to pre-lockdown levels once current restrictions are wound down.

“In terms of online shopping behaviour, I believe we have seen five years accelerate into only five weeks and we will plan to cement that change as we impress more new customers than ever with the AO Way,” he added.

AO said sales have increased across all its categories since the lockdown began.

The update came as AO said it expects its headline figures for the year ending March 2020 to fall within analysts’ expectations.

The company said it made “substantial progress” in its strategic priorities, as it reported growth in the UK, accelerated its path to profitability in Germany, and was cash-generative.

Shortly after the end of the financial year, the retailer refinanced a £60 million credit facility and £20 million loan which had been due to mature next year.

Shares in the company jumped 11% to 95p in early trading on Tuesday.