UK retailer ASOS stops orders after fire at warehouse

Photographer | Collection | Getty Images

British online fashion retailer ASOS said on Saturday it had been forced to suspend orders and take down its website following a fire at its main warehouse which police believe was started deliberately.

About 500 workers were forced to evacuate the warehouse in Barnsley in northern England after the blaze broke out late on Friday. The fire comes just two weeks after ASOS warned that its full-year profits would miss forecasts by 30 percent.

Ten fire engines with more than 60 firefighters dealt with the fire which involved four floors of the 60,000 square metre warehouse, South Yorkshire Fire Service said.

"South Yorkshire Police are now treating the incident as deliberate, after initial investigations were carried out this morning with South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue," the police forces said in a statement.

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ASOS said orders would be suspended while it assessed damage.

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"Thankfully no one was hurt and we expect to be back to normal for you in the next day or so," the company said in a message on its website.

A former darling of the retail sector, ASOS spooked investors in March when it announced plans to spend on infrastructure to meet future demand, at the expense of short-term profits.

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Its profit warning two weeks ago wiped 1.2 billion pounds ($2 billion) off its market value.

ASOS, which stands for As Seen on Screen, was founded in 2000 by current chief executive Nick Robertson and has grown rapidly as it met the demand for fast-changing fashions.

It is now investing to increase its offerings around the world, with international sales making up around 60 percent of the group total.