A snapshot of our history

From a £1 bet in a pub to a European electrical retailer with millions of happy customers. Follow our journey in the timeline below.


Apr – AO achieves over 400,000 reviews on Trustpilot whilst retaining its “excellent” rating

May – AO becomes a principal sponsor of “Soccer Aid” to raise money for UNICEF

Jun – MobilePhonesDirect launches “as new” iPhone and Samsung handsets on site, saving customers hundreds of pounds a year


Feb – AO Recycling process its five millionth appliance

Mar – AO introduces ten new HGVs to its logistics fleet powered by natural gas

May – AO donates 96 brand new fridges to FareShare, the food redistribution charity that supports foodbanks across the UK

Jun – AO announces the closure of its operations in Germany after concluding its strategic review

Jul – AO raises £40m following a successful placing of new ordinary shares

Sept – AO Logistics launches funded gas apprenticeships as it grows its fleet of qualified engineers

Oct – AO Logistics receives silver RoSPA award for demonstrating high standards of health and safety

Oct – AO announces the end of its store-within-a-store trial with Tesco and withdraws from the housebuilder market

Nov – AO became the principal sponsor of Manchester Thunder Netball in a five year deal


May – AO and Volution Group launch a partnership to transform old fridge plastic into fans and ducting for UK homes through AO’s state of the art plastic plant

May – After Covid lockdowns finally come to an end, hugs return to the UK as AO introduces Bear the AO teddy

July – AO opens another rework facility at its UK logistics hub in Crewe to give returned appliances a new lease of life

Sept – The AO Arena is born as AO becomes naming rights partner for the Manchester Arena, which reopened after 18 months of Covid closures

Sept – AO becomes Sale Sharks’ front of shirt sponsor as part of a long term partnership

Oct – AO and Sale Sharks launch “Are You A-OK” – a mental health programme for schools across the North West of England


In July 2020, AO announced its full year results, reporting significant progress against the priorities it set out in 2019: double digit UK MDA growth, accelerating profitability in Germany, being cash generative, and fully leveraging its eco-system further. When Covid-19 hit in March 2020, AO was in good shape. AO’s mission throughout the pandemic was to protect its people, continue to deliver safely to customers and, in turn, protect the business.

Online retail became a lifeline to many during the crisis, as five years of change in customer behaviour accelerated into five weeks. The business is continuing to focusing on implementing the One AO model and ecosystem strategy, with a focus on customers, innovation and growth while securing the operational gearing from structure and efficiencies.

AO Business continued to grow and after only six months in the housebuilders sector secured over 12,000 building plots showing the extent of demand from time-pressed developers for a 21st century proposition.

AO also fully reorganised its Tech with additional investment which now centres around product teams instead of being project based, creating deep topic expertise on key elements of customer journey, driving commonality across our business to drive the principle of being a lowest cost operator through scale.


At its interim results in November, AO announced it was closing its business in the Netherlands so that it could focus on achieving the right model in its larger German business which, Once completed, could provide the basis of future international expansion.

AO Finance, launched in late August, offers a market-leading rolling credit facility that gives more customers access to essential products through affordable finance.

Summer saw the launch of AO Mobile, six months ahead of schedule, offering customers handsets from all major manufacturers with SIM only or contract deals with all four of the UK’s mobile networks. Eight weeks later, AO and Vodafone announced a new strategic partnership giving customers wider access to Vodafone’s range.

In July, we processed our millionth fridge through AO’s state of the art appliance recycling plant in Telford, coinciding with the announcement that we are building a second plant to recycle plastics from appliances and packaging.

AO Business launched in June, giving millions of B2B clients the opportunity to get all the benefits of AO.com for their companies. Housebuilders were amongst the first to benefit from AO Business where guaranteed delivery and AO’s own installation teams are set to bring a new level of service to the sector.

The launch of AO Rental came in March offering appliances for £2 per week, with no up-front payment, no unexpected costs, we’ll repair it if it breaks and after five years, we take it away and bring the customer a new one.

March saw the launch of on-site Augmented Reality to help AO.com customers find the right TV for their home without the need for tape measures or imagination!

In February, AO’s Founder, John Roberts, returned to the business full time as Chief Executive and immediately set about focusing on growth and leveraging AO’s ecosystem of competencies and businesses.


We completed the acquisition of Mobile Phones Direct, making AO the largest mobile pureplay retailer in the UK with all four networks and handset manufacturers. With no stores, no legacy infrastructure and an AO customer base of over six million people that all have a mobile, added to the possibilities offered by connected devices, the possibilities are truly exciting.

We officially opened our very own state-of-the-art recycling plant in Telford, Shropshire. We have the capacity to recycle over 700,000 fridges a year – that’s one fifth of the appliances currently thrown away annually in the UK.

In March our new offices in Manchester city centre opened their doors and are home to AO’s digital and sales teams.

In April we became one of only 20 companies globally to reach over 100,000 TrustPilot reviews. These customer reviews have a 95% great or excellent score which places us amongst the top 0.01% of other companies who have achieved this milestone.



In February 2017, we announced that Steve Caunce, Chief Operating Officer, would succeed John Roberts as Chief Executive Officer. John Roberts transitioned into a new role on the Board as Founder, Executive Director. Steve is now leading the company as CEO, accountable for strategy and performance delivery, whilst John is focusing on innovation and inspiring AO’s people. Both continue to be responsible for maintaining and developing AO’s unique culture.

In spring, The Recycling Group (TRG) became AO Recycling. We are now the UK’s largest recycler of fridges and Large Domestic Appliances such as washing machines, dishwashers and tumble dryers.


In March 2016 we successfully launched AO.nl as we progressed with our strategy to expand the AO business across multiple countries. We also continued to add to our trophy cabinet. We were named Best UK Retailer of the Year 2016 by Verdict Retail, awarded the Customer Experience Initiative of the Year at the Retail Week Awards 2016 and ranked #1 in the Retail Week/Glassdoor Top 15 Retailers to work for in 2016.
Another massive year for AO. We successfully launched our business in Germany through ao.de and started selling TVs and other audio-visual equipment on ao.com. There were more awards too. We won Best Employer at the Retail Week Awards 2015, Overall Award for Excellence at the Etail Awards 2014 and Large eCommerce Retailer of the Year at the eCommerce Awards for Excellence 2014.
We won the Customer Service Initiative award at the Oracle Retail Week Awards and ranked at number 4 for the second year running in The Times’ 100 Best Mid-Sized Companies To Work For. AO World PLC floated on the London Stock Exchange in February.
Appliances Online relaunches as ao.com. We were ranked as the fourth best mid-sized company to work for in the The Times’ 100 list. We were also awarded the prestigious PayPal Best Large PurePlay Etailer, and were recognised for our social media campaigns. Meanwhile, our Facebook fans surpassed the 1 million mark.
We opened our new customer service offices in Manchester city centre, creating around 150 employment opportunities.
Keen to do more for our customers than just sell appliances, we launched our review website, Appliance Reviews. We also opened an in-house video production facility which produces video reviews of appliances that customers can access on our site. Our video reviews bring products to life for customers, providing a level of quality and consistency which we believe is not present in a traditional retail store.
We acquired two-man delivery company, Expert Logistics, from Iceland. Having control over the distribution of our goods means we can continue in our mission to keep our customers at the heart of our business, by offering an excellent delivery service. We also launched our Facebook page.
Sainsbury’s became the Group’s first client, closely followed over the next six years by Marks & Spencer, Debenhams, Shop Direct Group, Screw Fix, Argos and B&Q. Today, Next, House of Fraser, Boots, JD Williams and Empire Direct, amongst others, charge us with building and maintaining sleek, efficient online platforms for the sale of white goods under their brand names.
Third-party retailers spot the value of retailing white goods online while providing amazing customer service and bring us on board to supply and deliver these products to their customers.
The Group’s first e-commerce website, Appliances Online, is joined by Appliance Deals, which aims to offer high quality kitchen appliances at low-cost prices.
Following a drink with a friend, CEO John Roberts, bets him a pound that he could change the way white goods are purchased via the internet. The AO business is born as DRL Limited.
Buying a major domestic appliance typically involved a number of steps. Starting with the customer taking a trip to the shops and choosing their product in-store, the store would then have to place an order with the manufacturer. Eventually, your product would arrive at the store who would then send the product out to you. There must be a simpler way…