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Fashion Website Asos Gets International Shopper Boost

Thursday, 2 Jun 2011 | 4:20 AM ET

Asos, the British fast fashion website which promises cheap versions of celebrities’ outfits within days of them appearing on the red carpet, reported record annual sales Thursday, helped by sales from its recently-launched partner websites in the United States, France and Germany.

Growth Abroad Will Continue to Boost Asos: CEO
"Being an interenet business we've been able to exploit the international opportunity...and that's what's accelerating the growth," Nick Robertson, CEO of ASOS told CNBC, adding he sees that continuing for many years to come.

Its sales success came despite subdued consumer spending for many other retailers, as its target audience of 18-25 year olds continued to splash its cash on its relatively cheap clothes.

The Asos site features pictures of stars like Victoria Beckham and Cheryl Cole next to more budget-friendly takes on their outfits.

The internet retailer’s profit before tax fell 23 percent to 15.7 million pounds ($26 million) as it spent heavily on international expansion.

International sales rose by 142 per cent, with overall sales up 58 per cent to 423 million pounds.

Asos is planning to launch three more international sites this year. It now gets more than 50 percent of its sales from outside the UK.

“There isn’t another Asos in the UK,” Nick Robertson, Chief Executive of Asos, told CNBC Thursday.

He insisted that the site was “not in competition” with high street stores like Topshop, owned by retail tycoon Sir Philip Green, and Zara.

“We are selling the same brands at the same prices. We’re simply a department store," he said. “It’s a one-stop shop for your twenty-something shopper.”

The next step for the brand is further international expansion, Robertson said.

“We are good at fashion and that has good global appeal, so we can take this to the rest of the world.”

Analysts at HSBC and Merrill Lynch have recently downgraded the company’s shares, arguing that the share price, which has risen by 47 percent this year, has already risen too far.

Launching websites in new countries has also eaten into Asos' profits, but Robertson said that he sees the increased spending on technology as positive.

“This is a UK business and it’s expanding internationally. That comes at a cost, but the business is still inherently strong,” he added.

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