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