The fortunes of online fashion group Asos were in stark contrast to those of Marks & Spencer over the same period.

The fortunes of online fashion group Asos were in stark contrast to those of Marks & Spencer over the same period.

While M&S’s general merchandise like-for-likes were down almost 7% in its core UK market, Asos was able to post domestic growth of 8%.

Asos can’t quite be described as the M&S of the new millennium, but the divergence between the pair offers a few lessons. The performance of Asos is in part down to the increasing popularity of online shopping, but success has not just been a matter of being in the right place at the right time.

One of Asos’s strengths is how close it is to its shoppers. The etailer recruits in its customer’s image, resulting in a close connection between buyer, shopper and everyone in between that means the right product is typically on offer and in demand.

Its internet communications and marketing flair is also perfectly attuned to a global base of consumers with a shared sense of style – evident in soaring international growth of 49% and an advance of 83% in the US alone.

Unsurprisingly, Asos is on many brokers’ buy lists. There should be plenty more growth to come. The difficulty at times is likely to be containing expectations but, in retail at present, that’s not a bad problem to have.

JJB Sports’ retail relegation

JJB Sports had as dismal a Euro 2012 as the England team, and expectations have been cut after tournament-inspired sales proved scarce.

The poor performance prompted fears that other retailers such as Sports Direct might also have been affected by lacklustre demand for footie shirts.

Sports Direct issues full-year results next week. The figures are likely to show that Sports Direct continues to steamroller ahead. Its UK dominance seemingly assured, the big opportunities ahead are likely to be international, in sad contrast with the England team.