ASOS growth falters in the UK

It's almost unheard of for the online fashion retailer, but growth has slipped in the UK - although its international expansion has shareholders rubbing their hands in anticipation.

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 06 Nov 2012
Have fashion-savvy shoppers drawn the line at this season’s array of lumpy jumpers, or has ASOS finally reached saturation point in the UK? The online retailer/celeb-inspired fashion success story reported subdued growth in Blighty during its first half, with sales in this country rising by (a meagre, relatively speaking) 8%, to £88.7m. That may be the sort of growth most retailers would give their Miu Miu winter shades for, but compared with its first quarter’s 15% rise, it’s not much. Then again, internationally, it fared rather better, with a 150% jump in sales, hitting £122m. Higher, even, than those leopard-print ankle boots this faction of MT has its eye on…

Given the fact that the wallets across the UK are currently empty, ASOS is rather wise to concentrate most of its ambitions of expansion abroad. But while it’s already got a presence in the US, France, Germany, Australia, Spain and Italy, CEO Nick Robertson has apparently set his sights firmly on the less thrifty environs of emerging economies. This morning, Robertson said the company is on course to launch one big website that will cater to countries like China, Brazil and India, but languages – specifically, non-Roman characters – are causing delays. ‘Let’s build what’s fit for purpose now, give us a single platform that we can accommodate all of these language sets and character sets and off we go,’ he told Reuters.

But while he waits for that to happen, consumers in the debt-addled eurozone are reining in spending, which could prove to be a problem. Which seems to be what has knocked the company’s share price from its high in July of 2,508p in July. While group revenue rose by 56% to £217.3m and Robertson pointed out that he was ‘confident’ of meeting expectations with a £40m full-year profit, shareholders were evidently not convinced, with share prices falling by 1.9% in early trading.

But this is the man who, famously, declared the company would be making sales of £1bn by 2015. Unless he gets that BRIC website up and running soon, it might take more than a couple of outfits promoted by Alexa Chung to achieve that…

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