AO World to deliver bumper profits

Online electricals retailer AO World, which has its recycling centre at Halesfield, Telford, and a new distribution base in Stafford, has said it expects to deliver bumper profits over the year ahead despite the reopening of high street rivals, as it revealed an 88 per cent surge in UK sales.

AO's plant in Telford
AO's plant in Telford

The impressive performance over its final quarter helped group revenues jump by 62 per cent to £1.66 billion in the year to March 31.

It now expects annual underlying earnings to surge to between £63 million and £72m, up from £19.6m the previous year, despite extra costs relating to the pandemic.

And AO World founder and chief executive John Roberts insisted the company's rapid growth will continue in spite of increasing competition from bricks-and-mortar rivals after the reopening of non-essential shops this week.

Covid news:

He said: "I believe that these market dynamics will stick and, whilst there is inevitable uncertainty, the direction of travel is firmly with AO and the business model we have spent more than 20 years building.

"I expect that we will continue to be a double-digit growth business in the year ahead, even now as we lap the tough comparatives from last year with physical stores open."

The group's German operations also saw strong trading, with full-year revenues up by 77 per cent, and is set to deliver a full-year profit after finally clawing its way out of the red in the third quarter - a milestone for the division, which has been loss-making since its launch in 2014.

AO World said Government coronavirus support has either been repaid or not claimed.

But the Bolton-based group added that it expects to book a charge of around £15m due to customers cancelling long-term mobile and warranty contracts as they change their spending behaviour amid the pandemic.

It has also faced steep costs from making its operations Covid-19 compliant, particularly for goods returned by customers.

Shares in the firm dropped in January after it warned that these expenses would be "significantly higher", which overshadowed a record performance over Black Friday and Christmas.

In its latest update, the group reassured investors that its annual earnings remained in line with market expectations despite the extra expenses.

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