Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 24 September 2014

ASOS heads to China on £1bn mission

Fashion retailer ASOS generated sales of £769.4 million in its last financial year - keeping it on track to hit its £1 billion goal by 2015. (ASOS/Press Association)

Online fashion retailer ASOS said its £1 billion sales target was firmly in its sights as it confirmed plans for an imminent launch in China.

The group is in the final testing phase of its local language Chinese website, which should go live in the next few weeks to tap into one of the fastest growing retail markets in the world.

ASOS will also increase annual spending to support growth over the next two years to around £55 million after seeing full-year retail sales surge by 40% and global customer numbers pass seven million.

Underlying profits leapt 23% to £54.7 million, while total sales rose to £769.4 million - putting it on track to hit its £1 billion goal by 2015.

Top managers at the firm, including chief executive Nick Robertson, will share a lucrative bonus pot of up to £30 million if they meet their 2015 sales targets.

The group now makes nearly two thirds - 63% - of its sales from international markets and delivers branded and own-label products to nearly 240 countries, with eight local language sites in the UK, US, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Australia and Russia.

It will focus international efforts on its new Chinese offering over the next six months to establish the site in the market, with an initial range of 2,000 items.

Mr Robertson said : " Our £1 billion sales target is now firmly in our sights and we have stepped up our investment in people, technology, logistics and marketing to support the significant global potential of the ASOS business."

He added the new financial year had started "positively".

ASOS, which stands for "As Seen On Screen", was boosted by a particularly strong final quarter when UK retail sales rose 49% and international revenues leapt 47% higher, including a 73% increase in the European Union.

It has been benefiting from efforts to refocus marketing on its core twenty-something customer base and cut price tags, as well as offering free delivery and returns and an extended 9pm cut off for next day delivery in the UK.

Wayne Brown, analyst at Canaccord Genuity, said: "These results highlight the strength of the ASOS business model.

"The launch in China this year and higher levels of investment will drive further growth."

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