Buoyant ASOS sees sales beat market expectations

Have your say

SHARES in online fashion store ASOS shot up yesterday on the news that UK sales have outperformed expectations.

The company’s shares closed up x per cent at xp last night after ASOS reported a 10 per cent increase in UK like-for-like sales during the three months to New Year’s Eve, better than market forecasts of a five per cent rise and a one per cent increase in the previous quarter.

The company, which opened a £40m state-of-the-art distribution centre in Barnsley last year, said it will meet full-year profit forecasts.

ASOS targets internet-savvy 16 to 34-year-old women who want to emulate the designer looks of celebrities such as model Kate Moss, TV presenter Alexa Chung and pop star Tulisa Contostavlos, but for a fraction of the price.

International sales rose 93 per cent, just undershooting analysts’ consensus forecast of 100 per cent and growth of 141 per cent in the previous quarter.

More than three million items were shipped from the 530,000 sq ft distribution centre in Barnsley to places as far afield as Australia and Kazakhstan.

Chief executive Nick Robertson, who started the business in 2000, said: “We set up our Barnsley warehouse in the late summer and knew we would have to get in and get ready for Christmas.

“With 3.2 million items shipped to 190 different countries in December I think you could say we have achieved that.”

ASOS has branched out from clothes and now sells beauty products, accessories and jewellery with 1,500 new product lines being introduced every week.

Mr Robertson said that “great fashion” is driving the business.

“This year in the run-up to the Olympics the trend is going to be sport lux clothes, prints and pastel colours,” he said.

The company’s website now attracts 18.5 million unique visitors a month. The group is also taking advantage of the explosion in smartphones and iPads, with 19 per cent of the orders it received on Christmas Day made on a mobile device.

Analysts expect the firm to achieve pre-tax profits of around £40m on revenues of £510m.

n Online retail sales rose 14 per cent last year to more than £50bn, with predictions that the growth will continue to hit high streets sales, according to a new report.

Shopping comparison website Kelkoo predicted a similar increase this year, well above the expected 3.65 per cent rise in total retail sales.

Online shoppers spent an average of just under £1,500 each on 39 items last year, with internet retail trade accounting for 12 per cent of total spending, the highest in Europe, said the report.

Chris Simpson, of Kelkoo, said: “Internet retailing has improved substantially thanks to the use of affordable ‘always-on’ internet connections, simple and secure payment systems and the increasing popularity of mobile devices.”