By Neil Maidment
LONDON, March 20 British online fashion retailer
ASOS posted a 37 percent rise in second quarter sales,
buoyed by a better than expected home performance and strong
ASOS, whose celebrity fans include United States First Lady
Michelle Obama, said on Wednesday retail sales had risen to 186
million pounds ($281 million) in the three months to Feb. 28.
That was better than a market forecast for a 34 percent
sales rise, and ahead of a 30 percent jump in its first quarter.
Sales had jumped by 41 percent in December alone after strong
Christmas demand in Britain.
"Our UK performance remained ahead of expectations," Chief
Executive Nick Robertson said. "We remain positive in our
outlook for the year to 31 August 2013 and continue to trade in
line with expectations."
While the UK's traditional high street has suffered as
consumers worry about jobs and squeezed household incomes,
online retailers are faring far better, with ASOS in particular
bucking the gloom.
The firm, which targets young women looking to emulate the
designer looks of celebrities like Nicole Scherzinger and Cara
Delevingne, modestly described its performance in the first half
of the year as "robust" and reaffirmed its positive outlook.
"We believe that ASOS is continuing to demonstrate its
potential to become the online fashion destination for
20-somethings globally," Numis analysts said.
The group said its home market remained ahead of
expectations in the second quarter with sales up 28 percent to
75.5 million pounds, compared to 12 percent growth a year ago.
International sales rose 45 percent, up from a 34 percent
rise in its first quarter, to almost 111 million pounds.
ASOS said its retail gross margin slipped 50 basis points in
the quarter but was expected to improve in the second half as
last year's own-brand pricing reductions annualised.
Shares in ASOS, which have risen 77 percent in the last 12
months, closed Tuesday at 3111 pence, valuing the business at
around 2.5 billion pounds.