Appliances Online (AO.com) owner DRL steps up flotation plans

Appliances Online

DRL, the owner of Appliances Online, now rebranded AO.com has moved a step closer to listing on the London Stock Exchange after taking on advisers and lining up banks to complete the deal.

Founder John Roberts has hired investment banks Jefferies and JP Morgan to prepare a public listing which could occur before the end of the year, Sky News reported.

Roberts, who is being advised by Rothschild, could earn £60m from his 20% stake in the company if it floats. The etailer is valued at £300m.

DRL is looking to tap into upward consumer sentiment amid an improving economy with the listing, it emerged in July.

The e-tailer’s quirky adverts and swift delivery offer has attracted customers, including some who had previously shopped at collapsed rival Comet.

Roberts set up DRL Holdings, owner of Appliances Online and Appliance Deals, in 2000. DRL racked up sales of £275m in the year to March 31, 2012, up from £151.5m the year before.

Appliances Online rebranded as AO.com last month ahead of a push into new categories including coffee machines, food processors and vacuum cleaners.

AO.com is a considered something of niche retail player, operating in the white goods sector, but it has made a real impact with consumers in recent years and what started as an online business claiming to offer the cheapest white goods has now evolved to be as much about customer service as well as price, and in doing so it has taken much market share from the likes of Currys.

AO.com, which sells direct to consumers as well as for major retailers such as Argos and Next, now has profits of more than £8m and operates a service-led approach and being valued at £300m, it certainly has come a long way from its early beginnings.