AO boss John Roberts has admitted the business is facing a “daily fight” to source electrical products as supply chains adapt with the coronavirus crisis and Britain’s exit from the EU. 

Roberts has expressed frustration at the challenges his team have faced to secure supply as retailers worldwide scramble for the same product.

Roberts said: “The supply chain challenges continue. Exactly how they’re going to be exacerbated or resolved through the Brexit process in truth is completely unknown. 

“The truth is, honestly, we don’t know [how it will pan out], so it’s all best effort to try and protect customers from it. 

“We don’t think that Brexit will have any impact whatsoever on consumer demand as people are spending much more time working from home and therefore using their electrical products with an intensity that’s never happened before. 

“Very simply, we are experiencing shortages and it is a daily fight for our supply chain team to secure allocations of product.”

To combat this, AO has doubled both its warehousing footprint in the UK and its delivery capacity over the last six months, meaning it has double the stock available to “ride out” some of the challenges.

Roberts said the biggest stock shortage in recent weeks was the PlayStation 5, but the retailer was also seeing shortages in categories such as home computing and printers, freezers and tumble dryers as consumers spend more time living and working from home. 

“It’s a combination of a global surge in demand, so manufacturers are importing 20-30% global demand surge, and having to put Covid working practices into their factories, which ultimately puts grit in the machine,” Roberts said.

“Total production is down slightly, so if demand is up and production is down, that creates shortages – and then compound that with the fact that it’s more difficult to move things around, then it makes the whole thing more unpredictable.”

The comments come after reports of chaos at both Felixstowe and Holyhead ports in the UK as global supply chains struggle to cope with the impacts of the pandemic and the looming Brexit deadline.