Bumper payout for Asos chief Robertson

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The Independent Online

Nick Robertson, the chief executive of Asos, is set to pocket nearly £25m in shares over the next 16 months after the online fashion specialist hit its three-year management incentive plan's targets.

The bumper payout for the co-founder of the online fashion retailer and six other senior employees was revealed as the group posted a 43 per cent leap in underlying profits to £40.9m over the year to 31 March, driven by strong growth in overseas revenues and group margins.

But Asos suffered a slowdown in UK sales growth, reflecting the financial headwinds facing its core, "20-something" female customer.

Mr Robertson said: "She is starved of credit – be it a higher overdraft [charge] or on credit cards. She is more likely not to have a job than four years ago and her cost of living is going up."

Asos' UK business grew retail sales by 7 per cent to £197.9m, compared to growth of 25 per cent the previous year.

Mr Robertson will be awarded 1,489,584 shares worth £24.7m, based on yesterday's closing share price of £16.55p. He can cash in half of these from 30 September and the other half on the same date a year later.

Under the plan that took effect on 1 April 2009, he and six other directors invested about £200,000 of their own money into the scheme.

Asos, which has 4.4 million active customers in 160 countries, grew its market capitalisation by more than 500 per cent to £1.4bn and met the target of growing earnings per share by a compound rate of 42 per cent over the three years to 31 March.

The company's six other employees are receiving 2,511,238 shares, netting them a total of £41.6m. Group revenues jumped 46 per cent to £495m over the year. The company is "confident" of delivering £1bn of sales from its five major markets of the UK, US, Germany, France and Australia by 2015.

Its international business grew retail revenues by 103 per cent to £283.7m over the year to 31 March.

Asos opened an office in Sydney, Australia, this year, reflecting the fact it is the country's second biggest fashion website by visitors. It also plans to open small offices in New York, Paris and Berlin over the next three months.