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Asos says £1bn turnover is within sight as it prepares to launch in Russia and China

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Asos chief executive Nick Robertson today said £1bn in annual sales was “firmly in our sights” as he reported a 34% first-half boost to turnover at the fashion etailer, while profits grew by 19%.

The company has won approval to extend its Barnsley warehouse by 25% next year, giving it the capacity that it will need if it is to meet its £1bn sales target by 2015.

Asos , which runs six international ecommerce sites alongside its UK site, is now focusing on expansion into China and Russia as it works to become a “truly global retailer”. The Russian site is scheduled for launch on May 1, while the Chinese operation, to run on its own operating model, is expected to launch early in the new financial year, containing a 10% edit of the Asos product range.

Asos says the Russian market is its fifth biggest market outside of the UK. Its Russian launch comes ahead of its entry into China in October with a standalone business for the country as it continues its ambition to become the number one fashion destination for 20-somethings, globally.

The Russian Cyrillic site is run by a UK-based team of Russian nationals and will follow the same operational model deployed by the company in other countries. This includes offering the full 60k

product range on the core Asos platform and customer care through its current language partner. Orders will be fulfiled free of charge from the UK with delivery in 10 days. A tracked express delivery solution is also being offered. Asos CEO Nick Robertson said that by using a Romanised form of Russian the company was able to utilise its existing back end systems.

Group revenues at the online fashion retailer rose by 33% to £359.7m in the six months to February 28, while retail sales were up by 34% to £352.3m. The fastest growth was in international sales, which accounted for 61% of total retail sales. Overseas sales grew by 39% to £214.7m, with US sales up by 54%. UK sales also showed impressive growth, up by 26% to £137.6m.

Pre-tax profits grew by 19% to £25.7m. The company said it had 6m active customers at the end of the half-year.

Chief executive Nick Robertson said investment had been key to growth. He said: “We have continued to invest in all aspects of the customer offer to maximize the growth opportunity; investing in product price and quality, enhanced delivery options, a broad range of marketing initiatives, focused local teams in international territories and continual improvement to our technology platforms, most notably mobile and international sites.” And, he added: “We are already seeing the benefits of this investment across all territories with increased customer awareness, increased shopper frequency, higher conversion rates, more items per basket and strong sales growth. At the same time we have reached the milestone of six million active customers worldwide.”

Robertson said the company had “strong momentum” in its journey to become “the number one online fashion destination for twenty-somethings, globally,” adding: “Our international roll out continues and our £1 billion sales ambition for the group is firmly in our sights.”

Some 52.4% of total sales in the period were own-brand, and 26% were menswear.

• More details of the Chinese launch will be in the May issue of Internet Retailing’s print magazine.

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