soars on stock market debut chief executive John Roberts chief executive John Roberts

First published in News The Bolton News: Photograph of the Author by , business editor

ONLINE appliances retailer AO enjoyed a storming debut on the London stock market after seeing its shares jump by more than a third.

Bolton-based AO World's float price of 285p gave it a market value of £1.2 billion before the stock rallied as high as 412p and settled at 380p yesterday.

The flotation came 14 years after the business was started by kitchen appliances sales executive John Roberts.

He has retained a stake of 28 per cent - worth around £450 million - in the business after selling shares valued at £85 million in the initial share offer.

The business has grown to take a 24 per cent share of the online market for major domestic appliances in the UK - with the bulk in sales through its own website and the rest through third parties.

The site sells appliances such as washing machines, tumble dryers, dishwashers, fridges and cookers.

Selling shareholders in the float include directors, investors and senior management who have supported its growth to date.

Mr Roberts said: "I am delighted that our initial public offering has been so well received by investors. They have understood our business model and our potential."

AO believes it is well-placed to benefit from further growth in the UK online market for major domestic appliances, projected to expand by 11% a year between 2013 and 2016.

The strong performance will raise hopes for a number of other retailers preparing stock market floats, including Pets at Home and Poundland.

Revenues for the year ending in March last year were £275.5 million, with underlying earnings at £10.7 million.

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