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Asos needs maturity - but Bostock was never the right fit

So after just over seven months, Kate Bostock and Asos have parted ways.

The news was more surprising than her departure from Marks & Spencer this time last year - but only slightly.

Her appointment at Asos was, in theory, a good idea – bring someone with experience of steering a larger, more mature business, through the tricky waters that come with growing from a precocious start up to a serious global brand.

At the time of her hiring, Asos chief executive Nick Robertson explained that rationale clearly, and many were ready to believe it would work. The etailer was continuing to impress, but thinking ahead to the next stage of its lifetime was a savvy move and underscored how shrewd a businessman Robertson was.

Indeed, he spoke of the “maturity” and “rigour” she would bring to the business – and many were convinced it would work.  

Expectations were high, but there were some – including Drapers – who wondered whether the cultural transition would be problematic for Bostock.

After all, she had been at M&S for eight years, and before that had been at Asda and Next – all mature companies, none of whom (at least at the time) had to deal with the fast changing world of online sales.    

There were also question marks over whether a move to yet another role where she would be reporting into a chief executive might be right for Bostock. And whether it was coincidence or not, Asos saw a swathe of departures in the months after her appointment was announced, some of whom had been with the etailer since its formative days.

All this means that Robertson is once back – if he was ever out – of the spotlight as the sole person in charge. So far that has not been a bad thing – despite some analysts predicting a bubble set to burst it shows no signs of slowing down and the well-considered expansion into China and Russia should only bolster the business further.  

But if Asos is serious about stepping up to the next level, Robertson will need to bring someone on with experience of precisely that transition – and not perhaps on the fashion side.



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