Electricals retailer AO World has revealed plans to expand further across Europe as it posted a surge in annual profits thanks to the shift to online shopping during the pandemic.
Chief executive John Roberts unveiled plans to more than double the size of the group under ambitious five-year goals, with aims to roll out to France, Italy and Spain and hit sales of over £4 billion.
It comes after the group, which already has operations across the UK and Germany, reported pre-tax profits of £20.2 million for the year to March 31, up from £600,000 the previous year as revenues jumped 62% to £1.7 billion.
AO World said sales growth had eased slightly since the year-end as it laps strong trading from a year earlier, but added the new financial year had started well and it remains “prudently optimistic” of delivering double-digit growth again this year.
Mr Roberts said shoppers would not go back to their old ways following the switch online seen over the past year as customers snapped up electricals over the internet and rushed to stock up for homeschooling and remote working.
Speaking to the PA news agency, he said: “This is going to stick – when customers find a better way to do something, they rarely go back.
“This (the pandemic) has turbo-charged what’s been happening over the past 20 years.”
He said the group has attracted more than two million new customers over the past year, adding a “tonne of fuel to the fire”.
The group expanded into Germany in October 2014 and said the business broke even in its third quarter.
It pledged to ramp up investment in the group, with another £30 million earmarked for digital and marketing content and £30 million in upgrading its support systems as it looks to expand its European footprint.
“The investments we are making this year underpin those ambitions and ensure that our businesses are fit for continued growth, with a view to more than doubling the size of the Group in that time period,” AO World said.