THE boss of electricals giant AO has stepped down.

John Roberts, who set up the firm after a bet in a pub, has moved aside as chief executive to enable Steve Caunce to take over the reins. He will move onto the Board as Founder, Executive Director

In his mid-twenties Mr Roberts, then an appliance salesman, was having a beer with a friend in Bolton when he made a £1 wager saying he would set up his own kitchen business in Middlebrook.

Just 14 years later, he was a multi-millionaire after was floated on the London stock market.

In his new role with the company Mr Roberts is set to focus on both innovation and inspiring staff, while Mr Caunce will now take care of the future strategy and performance.

In recent times AO has evolved from being a domestic retailer in the UK, to operating also elsewhere in Germany and the Netherlands selling more products from multiple categories.

The new management structure, which takes effect immediately, will ensure that AO can capitalise on the team’s strengths as it continues to grow.

Mr Roberts, aged 43, 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.”

Mr Caunce said: “I am looking forward to leading AO which is an exceptional business and 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. We will continue to do things the ‘AO way’ – building our brand by offering consumers the very best customer experience, based on great choice, price and service. Our unique culture means that the passion of our people has never been stronger as we change the way Europe buys its electricals, simply by caring more and executing brilliantly.”