Caunce succeeds CEO Roberts at Bolton’s AO World

John Roberts

Bolton-based online electrical retailer AO World said chief operating officer Steve Caunce would succeed company founder John Roberts as its CEO, effective immediately.

Roberts, 43, who founded AO World in 2000 and still owns 25.94% of the firm’s shares, will transition to a new role on the board as Founder, Executive Director.

“Steve will lead the company as CEO, accountable for strategy and performance delivery,” said AO World.

“John will focus on innovation and inspiring AO’s people.”

AO World shares were trading down about 4% at 145p on Thursday, giving the company a current stock market value of roughly £617 million.

AO World said the transition in management roles reflected AO’s rapid growth and the board’s succession planning work since its IPO.

“AO has evolved from being a domestic retailer in the UK in 2014 in a single category, to operating in the UK, Germany and the Netherlands today, selling more products from multiple categories,” said the firm.

Caunce, 48, who owns 12.17% of AO World’s shares, said: “AO is an exceptional business and as CEO, working as closely as ever with John and with the whole team, I am focused on our mission to become the best electrical retailer in Europe.”

Roberts said: “I am as committed as ever to AO, both as an executive and as an investor, and remain hugely excited about the future of this fast-growing business.

“Against the backdrop of our rapidly changing marketplace, my role will be to ensure that AO is even better placed to deliver for our customers and to be one of the most exciting places to work.

“I am immensely proud to be handing over the CEO reins to Steve, who has been with me on the AO journey for more than 10 years.

“This is the right time for this change – for AO, for Steve and for me – and I look forward to continuing to work closely together.”

AO chairman Geoff Cooper said: “Steve has been a key part of the business for more than a decade, most notably overseeing our recent move into Germany and the Netherlands.

“John’s move reflects the successful management transition as we build on John’s entrepreneurial roots in the AO business that he founded.

“John’s new role will enable him to continue to play to his strengths as an innovator and a visionary leader.

“Steve and John remain very much a partnership and together they will ensure that AO continues to deliver for customers, colleagues, suppliers and our investors.”