* Roberts to retain executive role on board
* Operations chief Steve Caunce becomes CEO
(Adds detail, executive comments)
By James Davey
LONDON, Feb 22 AO World's founder and largest
shareholder John Roberts has stepped down as chief executive of
the British online electricals retailer but remain on the board
in a new executive role, the company said on Wednesday.
The firm said Roberts would be succeeded as CEO by Steve
Caunce, currently the chief operations officer.
The 43-year-old, who founded AO in 2000 and floated it on
the London stock exchange in 2014, will be succeeded as CEO by
Steve Caunce, currently chief operations officer.
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, selling multiple categories of electrical
"This is not me exiting stage left, this is not me leaving
the business, this is a formalisation of the responsibilities of
what people do in the business ... This is part of an
evolutionary process," Roberts told reporters, adding that
Caunce is already effectively running the business.
AO said that Caunce, 48, who holds a 12.17 percent stake in
the company, compared with Roberts's 25.94 percent, will lead
the company and be accountable for strategy and performance
delivery, while Roberts will focus on innovation and staff
"I would not be taking on this role unless John was
continuing doing what he does," said Caunce, who joined AO as
finance chief in 2005.
AO shares floated at 285 pence in February 2014 and peaked
at 412 pence on their listing day. But the stock was badly
knocked by a profit warning in 2015.
The shares closed at 150 pence on Wednesday, having fallen
by 9 percent over the past year. Its market capitalisation is
642 million pounds ($798 million).
"This transition in management roles reflects AO's rapid
growth and success and the board's succession planning work,"
the company said.
Chairman Geoff Cooper said there was unanimous approval from
the board for the changes.
"Both John and Steve remain fully committed, long-term
investors in AO World," the company added.
In January AO reported third-quarter group revenue up 12.3
percent year on year but gave a cautious outlook for the final
quarter of its 2016/17 financial year, citing an uncertain
british economic outlook, currency effects on supplier pricing
and the potential effect on consumer demand.
($1 = 0.8044 pounds)
(Editing by Mark Potter and David Goodman)