Asos chief executive Nick Beighton said he was not worried by Amazon’s fashion plans, and maintained Asos’ offer was different from the online giant’s.
Beighton said he recognised Amazon “would be a formidable clothing retailer” that would “disrupt lots of established clothing retailers”. But he added that Asos’ “20-something demographic, which is purely dominated by fashion, content and the whole experience, is a slightly different segment to where they [Amazon] are playing”.
“We are a 20-something retailer whose experiential content and media is entwined in our proposition – that is slightly different to what Amazon is offering.”
He added: “I think they’ll end up expanding ecommerce expectations in the UK and US, which will benefit people who have a good ecommerce proposition.”
Amazon has intensified its fashion ambitions lately, launching seven own-label brands with around 1,800 SKUs in the US, and is thought to have hired ex-M&S womenswear boss Frances Russell to build its clothing business.
Amazon made clear its fashion ambitions on both sides of the Atlantic with the launch of a photography studio in Shoreditch, east London, last year and a new click-and-buy TV show made in the US.
Beighton was speaking following Asos’ strong interim results. Pre-tax profits rose 18% while retail sales surged 21% in the six months to February 29.
Much of the growth came from overseas markets: UK sales were up 25%, while EU sales climbed 31% and US sales soared 40%.
Beighton said Asos had been unaffected by the lack of consumer confidence signalled recently by some retailers.
He said: “I am concerned about anything that affects our customer. But I have not seen a drop through in any of our numbers.
“We focus very firmly on the 20-something, fashion-loving customer. Our average basket size is £55. That is where we play, we continually invest in prices and improving our delivery proposition.”
Asos reported last week that it was closing down its Chinese operations. The retailer’s Chinese website was the eighth country-specific platform to be launched in November 2013 but has racked up losses of £18m since then.
Beighton said that it would redeploy capital from its Chinese operations to other markets which it believed would be more fruitful.
“We are focusing on keeping the UK customer experience hot, expanding and accelerating into the whole EU and building out and accelerating in the US,” he said.
“Those are the main markets where we will deploy investment. We also enjoy the number-one position in Australia for the 20-something market so will continue to invest in Australia.”
Beighton said Asos’ tech deployment was “unrecognisable from what it was a few years ago”.
He said: “During the last six months we have had 230 tech releases. Three years ago we had 270 tech releases for the entire year. The pace of our deployment of technology and the quality of our deployment is unrecognisable from what it was a few years ago.”