AO World swings to profit as demand soars during pandemic

Online electricals retailer AO World has swung to a first-half profit as customers flocked to its platform during the pandemic.

The group saw sales surge by 53.2% to £717 million for the six months to September 30 as high street rivals temporarily closed stores during the period.

The jump in revenues helped it move into the black, reporting an £18.3 million pre-tax profit, compared to a £5.9 million loss for the period last year.

Its shares dipped following the update, although the company had seen its share value more than quadruple since the start of the year.

John Roberts, founder and chief executive of the business, said he believes the market has changed “forever” as a result of the impact of coronavirus.

Mr Roberts said: “This has been a half year like no other.

“Online is now the dominant retail channel for customers and manufacturers alike and I am delighted by how our workers have risen to the challenge of this structural shift in behaviour.

“We have grown share across all categories and the results we’re announcing today give huge confidence that our business is well set for the future to cement the changes.”

The group said its overall operational performance has been “resilient”, as it benefited from investment in recruitment and its infrastructure.

AO also said it has been buoyed by improvements in its German business, which achieved profitable monthly earnings during its peak trading period and is now expected to post an annual profit by 2022.

Shares in the company were 4.9% lower at 398.7p in early trading.

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