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Asos ‘leading the way’ on sustainability, says CEO

Asos’ latest set of positive trading results are proof that customers are not moving away from fast fashion as it continues to “lead the way” on sustainability, CEO Nick Beighton has said. 

This morning Asos reported a 20% year-on-year rise in total group revenues to £1.1bn for the four months to 31 December 2019, as a result of a “record Black Friday” and strong customer engagement.

“This was an important period for Asos”, Beighton said. “With our warehouse issues behind us, we were focused on good, consistent execution and rebuilding customer momentum. It’s fair to say we’re encouraged by the outcome.” 

Beighton was adamant that shoppers are not moving away from fast fashion: “Based on our results we’re seeing no evidence of [that].

“We believe we’re leading the way with sustainability in our space. We believe we’re leading the way in the industry, or our sector, in the area and we’re committed to it. We’ve been on this journey for many years.

“Internally we have a programme that we call Fashion with Integrity, and that ranges from people, packaging, product and also a route to zero carbon. We’re committed to it, we know our customers think it’s important. So, we’ll continue to push on all four of those strands of our Fashion Integrity programme – the Responsible filter [a sustainable edit on the website] is just part of that.”

Beighton said Black Friday had “surpassed expectations” and was a driving force behind the results, with Asos managing 2,000 orders every minute at the peak of trading. He said during the busiest Black Friday trading moments, the etailer sold a black dress every second and a wedding dress every minute.

The CEO cited product and availability adjustments for its Black Friday performance, after a “disappointing” promotional period in 2018.

“We worked very hard on our product during the course of the last 12 months and correcting any mistakes we thought we’d made in the prior year [for Black Friday]. To break down that a bit more, we worked hard on the styling and presentation, we worked hard on improving our newness.”

Asos’s product newness was up 19% during the period, versus the same months in 2018.

Beighton added: “We also worked hard at bedding in our distribution centres in Eurohub and Atlanta, which gave us a much greater stock availability and gave us the ability to drive the customer trade that we were looking for. The warehouse issues are now largely behind us. Those two things worked extremely well for us.”

“We certainly sharpened up some of our promotions around Black Friday too [he declined to disclose the average discount].”

He concluded: “Our performance clearly represents an encouraging start to the year.

“However, we’re clear that there is still much more to be done. Those are our priorities which we set out a few months ago. The outlook for the full year remains unchanged.”

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