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More than half of Asos’ sales now abroad

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More than half of’s sales are now abroad, the fashion retailer said today.

In a trading statement, Asos said 52% of its sales in its fourth quarter, the three months to March 31, were international. The company’s biggest overseas market is the EU, although sales in the US and the rest of the world are growing fast.

Total retail sales for the fourth quarter were up by 70%, at £93.4m, compared to the same time last year, and by 59% compared to the previous quarter. In the UK, sales rose by 24% to £44.9m compared to last year, and by 23% compared to the third quarter.

Over the full year to March 2011 retail sales rose to £324.8m, a 58% jump compared to last year, with a 24% rise in the UK to £183.7m and a 144% rise in international sales to £141.1m. The company said investment in free shipping and returns had led to a reduction in overall gross margins; however there had been a small increase in retail gross margin.

Chief executive Nick Robertson forecast pre-tax profits for the year were likely to be “towards the top end of expectations”. He said: “We have approached the new financial year with confidence and are excited about the prospects for both our UK and international businesses.”

Our view: Asos’ results today illustrate just how strongly internet retailers can benefit from a strong international strategy. The company announces today that it is making more than half of its sales overseas, just as consumer confidence in the UK seems to be at a particularly at a low ebb. And while the company is seeing strong UK sales growth, it is abroad that its sales are growing fastest. As companies, including M&S, are finding, overseas expansion is a much lesser risk online than through high street stores, making the present potentially a very good time to be looking to new markets.

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