Industry insiders have heaped praise on Asos founder Nick Robertson as he steps down from the business he founded 15 years ago, while welcoming Nick Beighton as an able and credible successor.
“Nick Robertson is an unbelievable force and you wouldn’t be overstating it to say he is pretty much solely responsible for driving that business from a start-up that employed three people to one that makes more than £1bn in net sales and transformed the UK ecommerce industry in just 15 years,” said James Hart, a former Asos director who left the business in January 2014.
Hart was the first business’s first employee alongside founder Robertson and business partner Quentin Griffiths when it launched in 2000.
He said: “I think this is very much a lifestyle decision but it is a great move for both Nick [Robertson] and the business going forward.
“Nick Beighton is an amazing guy and a real operator. He is chilled out and very approachable – he will sit with you outside the office for a chat and is great at making things happen.
“Nick Robertson isn’t a detail man so they complement each other really well – I think now is a great time to take over the reins.”
Mark Newton-Jones, chief executive of Mothercare and previously group chief executive of Shop Direct, said: “Nick Robertson has done an amazing job of starting a company and making it a worldwide name and I think Nick Beighton is a great person to step into that role.
“He has a good handle of the finances and, with any online business, the financials are so important because it is all about getting that customer and retaining them so I think he will do a great job.”
This sentiment was echoed by Peter Williams, current chairman of Boohoo.com, previous chairman of Jaeger and was the chairman of the audit and remuneration committee at Asos for almost eight years to 2013.
“Nick Robertson has done a remarkable job in pioneering what is one of the world’s preeminent online fashion businesses, introducing things video clips on a catwalk or same day and next day delivery.
“He has also been able to do what not a lot of entrepreneurs can do in starting a sustainable business from nothing, growing with it over the years and building successful management teams around him.”
He described Beighton as an “able successor who knows the business well so has every chance to continue its future growth”.
Williams added that it can be difficult to find a pureplay chief executive from outside an existing business, as it is still a relatively young industry.
“The fact that Beighton is in the business already and knows it from inside is definitely a plus.”