Asos bucks weak trend with surging global sales

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The Independent Online

Asos has refused to rule out hiring Kate Bostock, the outgoing clothing supremo of Marks & Spencer, as the online clothing specialist's shares rocketed after its sales beat City expectations.

On speculation about Ms Bostock, Nick Robertson, the chief executive of Asos, said: "We are in the market for a heavyweight retail person. We are always looking for talent. But at this stage it would be inappropriate to comment on any individual."

Persistent speculation in the market has linked Ms Bostock, pictured, who quit yesterday as M&S's executive director of general merchandise, to a senior role at Asos.

Asos – which sells more than 50,000 branded and own-label womenswear and menswear lines in 160 countries – continues to benefit from strong demand online, particularly overseas. Mr Robertson cited strong growth in the US and Australia, where it launched dedicated local websites a year ago.

Total retail sales rose by 31 per cent to £136.9m over the three months to 30 June, comprising an 8 per cent rise in UK and a 49 per cent leap in overseas revenues.

Mr Robertson said he was pleased with the performance in the UK but saw no end to the downturn in consumer spending.

"People keep talking about when we are coming out of this – we are not. This is the new norm," he said.

Asos has lowered some prices to "reflect the economic challenges" facing its UK customers.

John Stevenson, the analyst at Peel Hunt, said: "The UK is benefiting from sharper pricing in men's and womenswear."

Shares in Asos rose 13 per cent to 211p yesterday. It said its UK performance was "particularly encouraging" given the current climate, with sales up £48m.

Simon Chinn, a consultant at Conlumino, said: "Asos is outperforming as its highly desirable but competitively priced fashion appeals to consumers in an increasingly austere environment."

Overseas business now represents 65 per cent of the online clothing specialist Asos's revenues, compared with 57 per cent last year.