Online fashion retailer Asos continues to defy the downturn with growth in sales and profits in the six months to September 30.

Total sales at Asos rose 47% to £96.5m during the period, with UK sales up 33% and international sales up 112%.

Pre-tax profits over the six months climbed 9% to £4.4m and Asos reported a positive start to the second half, with total sales for the seven weeks to November 15, up 46% year-on-year.

UK sales for the seven-week period climbed 23% while international sales rose 161%.

Asos chief executive Nick Robertson said: “A strong first half performance and a very encouraging start to the second half.  UK sales continue to grow and international sales have accelerated.

“We invested in a number of customer facing initiatives, specifically around delivery and returns and continued to build our international operation, the output of which is clearly visible with international now representing 25% of our sales.”

The number of “active” Asos customers rose by 32% year-on-year to 1.2 million at the end of October 2009.

The Asos board remains “cautiously optimistic” ahead of the peak Christmas trading period.