• Asos half-year pre-tax profits advance to £21.2m
  • Retail sales surge 21% during the period
  • Almost half of all orders in February are placed via m-commerce

Asos has unveiled an 18% jump in half-year pre-tax profits as retail sales and mobile traffic soared during the period.

The etailer posted a pre-tax profit of £21.2m for the six months to February 29, up from £18m the previous year.

It said retail sales surged 21% during the period to £648.6m, with UK sales accounting for £289.5m of that total – up from £231.4m.

International retail sales also improved 18% to £359.1m as overseas shoppers “responded well” to investments in price.

Despite lowering prices, Asos improved its retail gross margin by 40bps to 47.2% during its first half, while its active customer base also grew 17% to 10.9 million.

The online fashion business hailed its “awesome” performance on mobile as it maintained its loyal consumer base and attracted new shoppers.

It said m-commerce continued to “dominate” shopping behaviour as 3.2m people downloaded the Asos app during the half year.

More than 60% of all traffic to its website came from smartphones in the six-month period. In February, almost half of all orders were placed on mobile platforms, Asos said.

Improving momentum

The etailer also lauded the impact of its “best in class” service in delivery and returns, customer care and logistics to drive performance.

As part of that plan, Asos has extended its click-and-collect footprint by partnering with Boots, Doddle and signing up to Asda’s ToYou returns solution.

Asos pledged to continue investing in technology and said its headcount increased by 19% to 2,416 employees during the half year. The majority of new appointments were made in the areas of technology and customer care.

Chief executive Nick Beighton said: “We’ve had a good start to the year and I’m pleased with progress on a number of fronts. These results demonstrate improving momentum in the business with group sales up 21%.

“Our UK sales remain strong, up 25%, and our international customers have responded well to our continuing price investments.

Beighton added: “I’m pleased to confirm that we are on track to achieve our previously stated sales and margin guidance for the full year.”