AO World founder: No-deal Brexit planning a “waste of money”

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Ao World Brexit
// AO World founder John Roberts says £15m stockpiling ahead of Brexit was “wasted money”
// Investment came amid a full-year profit warning

AO World’s founder John Roberts has blasted the company’s no-deal Brexit planning as “wasted” money after revealing £15 million of stockpiling efforts.

Roberts, who recently returned to the helm as chief executive after a two-year hiatus, said the online retailer had invested heavily and did everything it could to prepare for a potentially chaotic Brexit, both in the UK and Germany, where it launched in 2014.

However, in an interview with Press Association, he said the cash could have been better spent elsewhere.

“We feel very ready and have spent a lot of money. I’d class that as wasted a lot of money,” he said.

He added: “We could have invested that money on much (more) positive things.”

AO World – which imports the majority of its electrical goods – recently confirmed it boosted stocks of popular products by around £15 million in the past three months in preparation for Brexit.

The investment came amid a profit warning that it was likely to slump to an underlying loss for the year to March 31.

The online retailer has been battling against tough markets in the UK and Germany and slumped to an £11.7 million operating loss for the six months to September 30.

Its shares have also fallen to all-time lows, having plummeted 36 per cent in the past six months.

Roberts said Brexit had “without a shadow of a doubt” been a significant factor in recent trading challenges.

Meanwhile, AO Mobile will launch in the summer, with the retailer using its recent £32.5 million acquisition of Mobile Phones Direct as a launchpad for the new operation.

AO World also recently unveiled its first step into the white goods rental market.

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