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Asos and Net-A-Porter announce the departure of their founders in the same week

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Net-A-Porter founder Natalie Massenet today announced she was to leave the upmarket fashion retailer she founded, just a day after Asos founder Nick Robertson said he had stepped down as chief executive of the fast fashion retailer.

Both are leaders who pioneered online selling in their own particular segments of the fashion market, and both started their businesses in 2000. Fifteen years on, it seems the time is right to move on.

Today’s announcement that Massenet will leave the role of executive chairman Net-A-Porter comes as the company completes its merger with Italian retailer Yoox.

She said in a statement: “After 15 extraordinary and exceptional years at The Net-A-Porter Group, the completion of the merger with Yoox Group is the right time for me to move on to explore new ideas and opportunities.

“I am immensely proud of the achievements of everyone who has helped build the world’s greatest game changing luxury fashion company, and I thank them all for helping me realise and surpass our dreams. I also want to thank our millions of customers around the world for continuing to be our greatest champions and inspiration, and the brands and designers who embarked with me on this digital journey over a decade ago and who made The Net-A-Porter Group possible.

“The business I started in 2000 could not be in better shape today. Having joined forces with Yoox Group, the company will be bigger, stronger and superbly well positioned under Federico’s leadership to lead the industry and create the future of fashion. As a continuing loyal customer I will be excited to see the next chapters for this amazing business.

“As for my own future, my entrepreneurial drive is as strong today as it always has been, and my passion for innovation will continue to be my greatest guide in business. The incredible experiences and memories of the past decade and a half and the people I have had the honour to work alongside will always be an inspiration to me.”

At Asos, Robertson yesterday stepped down with immediate effect, handing over to Nick Beighton, with the company since 2009, first as chief financial officer and, since last October, as chief operating officer. Robertson will remain on the board as a non-executive director; Asos’ new chief financial officer Helen Ashton started with the company yesterday.

Asos chairman Brian McBride said: “On behalf of everyone who works at Asos, I’d like to acknowledge Nick Robertson’s extraordinary achievement. His passion and vision have built a start-up into a world class company. We are all delighted that Nick will continue to contribute to the Company that he started.

“We are fortunate to have such an able successor for the CEO role in Nick Beighton. Nick has unique experience of the Company built over six years, equipping him to drive Asos along its growth trajectory to become the world’s leading online fashion retailer for 20-somethings.”

Asos started life as As Seen On Screen back in 2000, when it was founded by Robertson and Quentin Griffiths. Today it has nine local language sites and delivers from fulfilment centres in the UK, Europe, the US and China to almost every country in the world.

The announcement of Robertson’s departure comes at the end of Asos’ latest financial year, with results likely to be published in October.

In its last full-year results announcement, the company reported a profit of £46.9m in the year to August 31 2014, 14% down compared to the previous year, on sales of £975.4m, that were 27% up on the previous year. Profits had been hit by investment both in China and in warehousing, currency fluctuations, and by a fire at its Barnsley warehouse, which closed the business for two days. Customer numbers at 8.8m were 25% up on the previous years.

The company appears likely to pass the £1bn sales mark in its upcoming full-year results, and currently is building the infrastructure required as it expands towards its next turnover target, of £2.5bn.

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