Belfast Telegraph

Cracker of a Christmas for online fashion firm ASOS

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 £43.7m 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 was held back by delivery challenges caused by the pre-Christmas snow.

Short for as 'as seen on screen', the firm is famous for taking inspiration from the latest catwalk trends and putting them on the market quickly at a fraction of the price.

Celebrity fans include TV star and model Olivia Palermo, who has modelled ASOS clothes and graced the front cover of the brand's magazine.

ASOS 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 £5m 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.

ASOS is looking to support UK sales through new ventures, including a Facebook shop at the end of this month and also recently launched ASOS Marketplace enabling small boutiques to sell their fashion products to ASOS customers.

The group, founded in 2000, targets fashion-forward 16 to 34-year-olds and attracts more than 11 million unique visitors a month.