White goods etailer Ao.com has made its presence keenly felt in the industry over the last few years, whether for the way it has put customer service at its heart or its amusing ads.

White goods etailer Ao.com has made its presence keenly felt in the industry over the last few years, whether for the way it has put customer service at its heart or its amusing ads.

But the latest round of rubber-necking it’s caused is about its IPO valuation, which looks likely to be £1bn or more. 

At that sort of capitalisation it would be up there with longer-established retailers that themselves have built, or are building, strong multichannel capabilities.

Ao.com’s success is reason for celebration and testament to the entrepreneurial verve that has made the UK an ecommerce leader as etailers such as Asos blazed a trial.

Investors salivate at the prospect of finding a ‘new Asos’ and it seems Ao.com might fit the bill. However, there’s no avoiding the fact that, fast growing as it may be, the valuation being talked of for Ao.com is about 100 times last year’s EBITDA. That’s pretty chunky and a lot to live up to.

Pets at Home gets women on board

There’s nothing sexist in noting that women are big shoppers. Whether it’s the weekly trip to the supermarket or fashion, women form the bulk of the customer base for many retailers.

The best retail leaders recognise that – it was always noticeable that Sir Stuart Rose referred to his customer as ‘she’ – so it’s surprising that there are still a relatively small number of women on some company boards.

Retail stands up pretty well in comparison with some industries but it can still do better. It’s interesting that one of the new wave of IPO candidates – Pets at Home – will come to market with women making up about third of its board.

It’s a development that some other retailers may want to replicate. Not to be PC or to tick compliance boxes, but in recognition of reality. Better representation on the board is likely to contribute to better business.