Buoyant Asos stays mum on hiring M&S's Bostock

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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, 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 jumped 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 its 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, an 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.