Asos founder Nick Robertson to quit as boss of online fashion giant after 15 years

Chief operating officer Nick Beighton set to take the helm of £2.5bn chain

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The Independent Online

Nick Robertson, the founder and chief executive of Asos, is preparing to step down at the online fashion retailer after 15 years at the helm.

Mr Robertson will hand the reins to Nick Beighton, the company’s long-time finance director, who was promoted to chief operating officer last October. The move could be announced to the London Stock Exchange as early as Wednesday, although Asos declined to comment.

Mr Beighton was replaced as finance chief by Helen Ashton, the former head of the debt management business Capquest and one-time finance director at Lloyds Banking Group, who took up her post at the retailer on Tuesday.

Mr Robertson, who still owns an 8.4 per cent stake in  the company that is worth more than £208m, is expected to stay on the board as a non-executive director.

He launched the business in 2000 as As Seen On Screen,  offering its twenty-something customers outfits and accessories similar to those worn by celebrities. It listed on the London Stock Exchange’s junior Alternative Investment Market at 20p a share in 2001.

Asos shares closed at 2,984p, giving it a market value of £2.5bn.

In recent years Asos has expanded globally, and now claims that more than half of its nine million customers for its trademark “fast-fashion” are from outside the UK.

It has websites in nine languages and major warehouses in the UK, US, Europe and China. It has also expanded beyond its target audience to claim its own A-list fans including the US First Lady Michelle Obama and the American actress Jessica Alba.

But the shares are still 57 per cent below their all-time high, which was reached in early 2014 before the company was  hit by a devastating fire at its main UK warehouse in Yorkshire, which wiped £30m off its sales last year.

The strong pound then took its toll, which led to Asos issuing a string of profits warnings as international sales weakened considerably.

Since then, however, Asos has began to fight back. Announcing it its last results at the end of June, Mr Robertson said that the worst of such currency hits was behind it after it brought in new zonal pricing systems.

Previously, Asos had been unable to offer different prices in different countries, meaning that any rise in sterling hit its international sales, but the new system allows the company to control prices on a country-by-country basis.

Mr Robertson said: “We’re still not quite out of the woods. It’s a two-year price investment journey. We set out to stimulate growth, so we’ve still some way to go.”