The male passion for fashion sees ASOS profit

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fashion-conscious men helped ASOS end the year in style as the online clothing retailer nearly doubled its annual profits.

The company, which targets twentysomethings with clothes based on outfits first worn by celebrities, said fashion was “just as important” to men as to women, as menswear sales leapt around 60 per cent in the year to March 31.

Shares in ASOS, which has websites in seven countries and ships to a further 190 nations from the UK, jumped 5 per cent after the retailer revealed a 93 per cent increase in bottom-line pre-tax profits to £30.3m.

The group, which attracts nearly 17.5 million unique visitors a month and has eight million registered users, saw retail sales increase 49 per cent to £481.6m, including a 7 per cent rise in the UK to £197.9m.

Meanwhile, the four top executives at the group are to receive shares worth £57m after the stellar growth ensured a three-year bonus plan paid out in full.

The ‘management incentive plan’ started on April 1, 2009 and covered the three years to March 31, with the level of payout determined by the company’s earnings per share and shareholder return. Shares have more than quadrupled to around 1610p in that time.

Chief executive and co-founder Nick Robertson, whose own incentive award is worth around £23m at today’s share price, said: “We remain positive in our outlook for 2012/2013 as we continue our journey to becoming the world’s number one online fashion destination.”

ASOS said own-label brands now account for 55 per cent of all sales, while it remains committed to generating £1bn in sales by 2015.

The company said it continued with its international expansion plans with three new country sites opened in the period and a new returns hub set up in Sydney.

It said 69 per cent of its traffic now came from outside the UK, compared to 58 per cent in the previous year.

Despite the strong growth, the board still does not pay a dividend to shareholders, as it believes investors are best served by continued investment in the business.

ASOS invested £40m in a state-of-the-art warehouse in Barnsley, which opened last summer.

Elsewhere, the company said its chairman Lord Waheed Alli would step down after 12 years.