It’s a hard life on the high street but online sales are still growing strongly.

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It’s a hard life on the high street but online sales are still growing strongly. Evidence that online specialists continue to make hay was provided by Asos on Wednesday in its fourth-quarter update when, once again, burgeoning international operations made an increasingly important contribution. If it was on the main market AIM-listed Asos would be one of the biggest capitalised retailers. Despite its consistent performance - it’s one of the greatest retail entrepreneurial success stories of recent decades - some believe that the Asos share price has run too far ahead of itself.

No doubt that debate will continue. But it seems certain that bear-raider Simon Cawkwell, aka Evil Knievel, who earlier this year reportedly increased his bet on an Asos share price car crash, will be grinding his teeth for a while.

Catching the multichannel wave

The wave of international etail opportunity being surfed by Asos has also caught the eye of other retailers, which are increasingly offering overseas delivery or launching dedicated country sites. N Brown and Next are among them, and M&S will join the fray by the end of the year with a French bricks-and-clicks model in which the latter component will be pivotal.

Who else might follow? One of the most advanced multichannel operators in the UK is Argos, owned by Home Retail, which issues prelims next Wednesday.

Argos has been finding UK conditions tough buts its multichannel business is growing. Did you know that Argos has a Spanish site trading in euros? The low-profile nature of the venture and fact it never seems to be mentioned suggests it is not a jewel in the Argos crown. And an Argos joint venture in India never took off.

But the increasingly cross-border nature of online trading and Argos’s general merchandise strength suggest the potential for an international business of scale must be up for consideration.