CEO of, John Roberts calls for local businesses to invest in county’s young people

Businesses have been provided with a unique insight into one of the UK’s pioneering online businesses at a Business Breakfast with special guest speaker John Roberts, CEO of international online retailer,, hosted by Carlisle Youth Zone and Baines Wilson LLP.

John joined the county’s businesses in conversation about AO’s creation, starting from a £1 bet in the pub between friends to now being one of the most successful online retailers in the UK and Germany. John discussed the challenges his business has faced due to the pandemic and its fast track development plans as the company has had to adapt its 10-year plan in just 10 months.

The most important discussion however, was in relation to the country’s young people. John highlighted how Youth Zones across the country and other initiatives face unprecedented  challenges due to COVID and face slipping under the radar with their opportunities restricted.

John said: “Talent is evenly distributed but opportunity is not and it was inspiring to see so many people locally engaged in making a difference to the lives of young people.”

Tom Scaife, Partner with Baines Wilson, who hosted and sponsored the event, commented: “John’s passion for the Youth Zone movement and the need for businesses to offer support is so on point in the midst of a pandemic. As an organisation that is committed to developing and fulfilling the potential of young people, it was fantastic to hear from John at the Carlisle Youth Zone event and also to hear AO’s story and how innovation is essential in business to survive and thrive.”

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