ASOS boosted by overseas demand


ASOS chief executive Nick Robertson said the online retailer will increase its overseas reach this year

Online fashion retailer ASOS said sales soared 59% in the Christmas quarter thanks to a record performance from its international arm.

The group reported a 156% surge in overseas sales to £43.7 million for the final three months of 2010, which helped offset an increasing trend for slower growth in the UK.

Sales in the UK improved on the previous three months, at 23% up from 20%, but were held back by delivery challenges caused by the pre-Christmas snow.

ASOS – which stands for As Seen On Screen – had to bring forward UK delivery deadlines by three days due to the weather, which analysts at Numis Securities estimate could have cost the firm around £5 million in lost sales.

Chief executive Nick Robertson said the impact would be “non material” on overall group results.

Sales grew 267% in America after it launched a dedicated website at the end of September with sites following soon after in France and Germany, helping European growth rocket to 102%.

Mr Robertson said the group would open another “handful” of sites this year worldwide, but did not reveal in which countries. He added the group would be “upping the ante” with marketing efforts in areas where it had recently launched dedicated sites.

Overseas sales now account for around 40% of turnover, up from 28% in its last financial year. This is helping make up for a maturing UK market, which is also a tough battleground amid increasing online competition from mainstream retailers.

Analysts at Investec Securities said the growth in the UK was below their expectations for the festive season, although partly accounted for by the weather. They added: “This performance looks to be broadly in line with UK market growth, as ASOS ‘normalises’ and high street fashion competitors boost their online representation.”

ASOS is looking to support UK sales through new ventures, including a Facebook shop at the end of this month. Mr Robertson said: “Our customers spend a lot of time on Facebook and this will allow them to shop at ASOS without having to leave the site.”

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