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UPDATE 1-ASOS to focus on four main markets under new boss
October 20, 2015 / 1:00 PM / 2 years ago

UPDATE 1-ASOS to focus on four main markets under new boss

* New CEO says international strategy to have “tighter focus”

* 2014-15 profit up 1 pct

* Forecasts sales growth of 20 pct in 2015-16

* Shares rise up to 8.7 pct (Adds CEO, analyst comment, shares)

LONDON, Oct 20 (Reuters) - British online fashion retailer ASOS will concentrate its efforts and investment on its main markets of Britain, France, Germany and the United States, its new boss said on Tuesday.

ASOS currently has nine locally focused websites also covering markets in Spain, Italy, Australia, Russia and China.

“Over the next couple of years our focus will be around keeping the UK business hot, with plenty of product innovation,” said Chief Executive Nick Beighton.

“I will (also) be focusing on the eurozone, particularly France and Germany, and the third main point of focus is the U.S..” Beighton said China, which ASOS entered in 2013, remained in “start up mode”.

ASOS’ founder Nick Robertson quit as CEO last month after 15 years in which he transformed the Internet start-up into a retail powerhouse.

He was succeeded by Beighton, who stepped up from the chief operating officer role. Robertson has, however, remained a non-executive director.

The firm, whose fast fashion is popular with Internet savvy twentysomethings, met forecasts with a 1 percent rise in 2014-15 profit and said trading in its new financial year had started well.

Shares in ASOS, which tend to be volatile and were already up 51 percent over the last year, rose by as much as 8.7 percent on Tuesday thanks to a positive outlook statement and a well received presentation to analysts.

ASOS forecast sales growth for the 2015-16 year of about 20 percent, a maintained operating margin of 4 percent and 80 million pounds ($124 million) of investment. It has a target to eventually hit 2.5 billion pounds of annual sales.

ASOS made a pretax profit of 47.5 million pounds in the year to August 31, on retail sales up 17 percent to 1.12 billion pounds. UK sales rose 27 percent, while international sales were up 11 percent.

The firm had a tough 2014 when it issued three profit warnings but its trading recovered in 2015, helped by price cuts and a pricing system that allows it to charge prices country by country to reflect fluctuating exchange rates.

ASOS shares listed at 20 pence in 2001 and hit a high of 71.95 pounds in February 2014, giving it a market value of 6 billion pounds before the first of last year’s profit warnings.

At 30.99 pounds the stock now has a market capitalisation of 2.58 billion pounds or more than two-and-a-half times the value of department store Debenhams. ($1 = 0.6462 pounds) (Reporting by James Davey; Editing by Keith Weir)

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