Asos’s Nick Beighton has hit back at an attack from union GMB claiming the fast-fashion retailer was “coining it in”.
The union made its allegation to coincide with Asos’s full-year results this morning.
It comes off the back of other similar statements from the union following an investigation by Buzzfeed, which “revealed allegations of exploitative contracts, an overbearing security regime, and stressed workers”.
The union said: “We’re seeing a familiar story play out – massive profits for those at the top, made on the back of poor pay, terms and conditions for those making ‘fast fashion’ a reality.
“Asos are quite literally coining it in while agency workers worry whether they’ll get enough hours next week to pay the bills. We’re simply asking Asos to treat the people who keep their warehouses moving with a bit of respect – that can’t be too much to ask in the 21st century.
“If Asos bosses are serious about providing fashion with integrity – which is one of their slogans – then they can make sure their working conditions are fair, that wages and contracts mean people can live a decent life and that no one is subject to oppressive security and surveillance measures just for doing their jobs.”
Beighton responded that it was “more of the same from the GMB” before going on to say that he wouldn’t dignify the attack with a response.
He issued a six-page rebuttal two weeks ago, saying Asos had “nothing to hide”.
Today he added that that the rebuttal was sent directly to all major shareholders and that, while Asos had had “a dialogue” with all of its shareholders, he was “more concerned [about] customer and internal perception than anything else”.
Beighton maintained there had been no drop off in customer engagement following the Buzzfeed investigation.
Asos also works with Transline, which came under fire during the summer for its role in the Sports Direct scandal. Beighton said today that he was happy to work with the operator.
Sales and profits
Asos sales soared over the year to August 31, with UK sales rising 27%. The US was the biggest growth market, generating a 50% increase in sales.
The fast-fashion etailer is one of the few UK businesses expected to benefit from Brexit but Beighton refused to be drawn on whether the business favoured a “hard Brexit”.
He said he had been involved in discussions between retail and Government and that he was confident that the Government would “do the right thing in the landscape they find themselves in”.
Asos resolved its trademark litigation with Assos and Anson’s during the period and is now able to launch an activewear range.
Activewear has been a huge growth area for struggling fashion, which Asos will now benefit from.
Beighton said consumers could “expect an unbelievable activewear range with a little bit of Asos magic”.
He added: “I’m personally very excited about it. I’ve seen early first product shots. We will launch some initial product just after Christmas and build from there.”
Looking ahead, Beighton refused to offer a breakdown of what percentage of income Asos’s main markets would generate.
However, he said he was not “expecting the UK to fall away substantially” and that it would put in “another strong performance”.
He said he saw “no issues with consumer confidence” and added: “Invest in the customer and you get the reward you deserve.”
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