Asos to boost Barnsley warehouse as profits rise

Online fashion retailer Asos has beaten the retail downturn with double digit sales and profit growth.

Asos appeals to fashion conscious 20-somethings

This was despite heavy investment in its main warehouse in Barnsley, which is seen as key to the group's future growth.

The site is Barnsley's biggest private sector employer with around 4,000 people working at the site.

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Asos, whose high-profile fans include singers Taylor Swift, Rita Ora, and former US First Lady Michelle Obama, said revenues rose 26 per cent to £2.42bn in the year to August 31.

Asos said its potential was “huge” as it narrowly beat forecasts with a 28 per cent jump in annual profit to £102m. This was just ahead of analysts’ average forecast of £101m and up from £80m the previous year.

This was despite a multi-million pound investment in its Barnsley warehouse as well as ramping up warehouse space in Germany and the US.

Asos said the capacity increase project at Barnsley was completed on schedule, which added an additional 2 million units of stockholding capability to its UK hub.

By the end of the calendar year Asos will have completed its programme at Barnsley. This will include upgrades to the restaurant, locker rooms, relaxation spaces and a well-being centre in addition to increased trading space. Asos said a new on-site car park is also now open.

The warehouse has increased the minimum wage to the UK Living Wage Foundation rate of £8.75 for all workers after three months service and intends to create 500 fixed term contracts around Christmas. It also has 60 warehousing apprentices through its relationship with Barnsley College.

The site has maintained Investors in People Accredited Status this year and, for the third year in a row, it has won a Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents gold award for health and safety.

The facility, run by XPO Logistics, also recently picked up Barnsley Council’s Healthiest Barnsley Business Award for demonstrating its commitment to the health and wellbeing of its workforce.

Next month Asos and XPO Logistics are sponsoring the Centrepoint Sleep Out in Barnsley, which takes place on November 8. Asos is a national corporate partner of Centrepoint and is also funding two health care professionals at the charity’s Barnsley centre.

Chief executive Nick Beighton said: “Asos is moving fast and is as differentiated as ever. The potential for our business is huge."

Retail sales rose 26 per cent to £2.36bn, supported by growth of more than 20 per cent in both the UK and international markets. This marks the group's third consecutive year of sales growth in excess of 20 per cent.

The group has incurred heavy transition costs as the business upgraded its warehouses to cope with demand, as well as a £2.7m impairment charge on the closure of its A-List loyalty scheme.

In April, Asos shares dropped after it outlined plans to spend between £230m and £250m investing in its infrastructure. This was higher than a previous estimate of up to £220m.

The company reiterated its plans, saying the investment in warehousing and technology will facilitate further growth.

Mr Beighton said: "Our guidance remains unchanged both for the current year and the medium term, despite our record levels of investment.

"Asos is moving fast and is as differentiated as ever.

"The potential for our business is huge and we remain focused on building Asos into the world's number one destination for fashion loving 20-somethings".