Global reach helps Asos sidestep Olympics slowdown

The online fashion retailer Asos enjoyed accelerated sales growth over the last quarter after a renewed focus on its core twentysomething female customers paid off.

A strong final quarter in the UK helped Asos reassure on earlier profit guidance and boast full-year revenues up nearly 40 per cent, although the lion's share of its growth came from booming international sales, from Australia to the US.

Nick Robertson, the chief executive, said: "We focused back on that twentysomething customer. We adjusted prices and tightened up our proposition. We edited [out] some of the more premium ranges that our customer aspires to but cannot afford."

Asos increased its UK retail sales by 15 per cent to £49.9m over the three months to 31 August, an improvement on the 10 per cent rise for the full 12 months.

Mr Robertson said he was "pleased" with its UK performance but conceded it had been helped by being up against soft sales for the same period last year, which included the riots in August 2011.

He added that demand for sweat shirts, tartan items, "statement jewellery" and camouflage clothing was particularly strong over the summer, despite the distraction of the Olympics.

Total retail sales at Asos, which attracts 18.8 million unique visitors a month to its website, jumped 38 per cent to £537.9m over the year.

The group also improved its gross profit margin by 0.7 percentage points, as booming sales helped it negotiate better prices with suppliers.

Mr Robertson said: "The Olympics did not really impact us materially because it is a reflection of how global we are. The UK is only 35 per cent of our global sales."

Asos opened an office in New York a month ago which will help step up its marketing and PR and tweak its US product offering. Mr Robertson said: "The offer will be slightly more reflective of the US customer base."

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