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Breakingviews - Capital Calls - ASOS prepares for Roaring Twenties

A model walks on an in-house catwalk at the ASOS headquarters in London, Britain, April 1, 2014.

LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - NEW WARDROBE. ASOS is preparing to reap the benefits of a return to the Roaring Twenties. Chief Executive Nick Beighton reckons the UK online retailer’s loyal army of 20-something shoppers will splash out on new wardrobes as the country shakes off the pandemic and pubs and restaurants reopen, triggering a spending splurge similar to that after the Spanish flu.

A new look is needed. The 6 billion pound fast fashion retailer last year enjoyed a surge in demand for tracksuits and loungewear, which rose to 41% of all sales from 30%, helping to deliver a 275% increase in adjusted pre-tax profit for the six months ending Feb. 28. But that will start to tail off as people return to offices and pubs reopen. The hope is that sales of “occasionwear” such as frocks and suits, which suffered last year, will now rebound. ASOS shares are already up nearly 20% since the beginning of the year, outperforming tracksuit and trainer giant Nike, which is down 2% in the same period. Not everyone can enjoy the reopening party. (By Aimee Donnellan)

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