The founder and chief executive of online electricals company AO has announced he will step down.
John Roberts, who has run the company since its inception 17 years ago, will make way for the current chief operating officer Steve Caunce who, according to Roberts, has been “running the business on a day-to-day basis for some time”.
The founder, who set up AO after a £1 pub bet, will move to a new role on the board as executive director.
Since listing itself on the stockmarket two years ago, AO has seen the value of its business more than half, diving from £1.6 billion to £631 million.
This value could fall further following today’s news, as investors express surprise at the decision.
Roberts is the largest shareholder in the company with more than a quarter of the shares, while Caunce owns a further 12.5 per cent stake.
In its latest financial result the retailer posted a 12.3 per cent rise in total revenue for three months ending December 31 and said it still expected to meet guidance for the fiscal year.
“John’s move reflects the successful management transition as we build on John’s entrepreneurial roots in the AO business that he founded,” AO World chairman Geoff Cooper said.
“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.”