Asos has revealed first half sales reached a record £2 billion, as the lockdown ‘winner’ confirmed bringing Topshop back to high streets is not part of the online fashion giant’s current plan.
Asos saw revenues and profits soar in the six months to February 28, helped by the online shopping boom during the pandemic.
During the period it agreed a deal for the Topshop, Topman and Miss Selfridge brands, but not the stores.
Fans of Topshop, previously part of Sir Philip Green’s fashion empire Arcadia, had hoped the chain’s flagship could be potentially safeguarded when Asos’ boss said the firm was “looking at” the possibility of how the Oxford Street branch might be able to continue to operate. That would be in the event a franchise or licence partnership took on the lease.
But Asos chief executive Nick Beighton today appeared to pour cold water on the prospect of the company directly running its own high street shops.
He told the BBC Today programme that Asos is “online only”. Asked about physical stores, Beighton added: “Never say never.. but its not in our immediate plans.”
Beighton said the performance of Topshop so far has been “brilliant”.
The company has thrived during the coronavirus crisis as non-essential retailers, such as clothing and jewellery brands, have had to shut branches at various points for lockdowns.
The group gained 1.5 million more customers than a year earlier in the first half, with active shoppers using Asos reaching 24.9 million.
Total revenue jumped 24% to £1.98 billion, and pre-tax profit soared to £106.4 million from £30.1 million.
Physical stores will begin to reopen from April 12, after the government this week gave the green light for retailers to do so.
Asos said: “We believe the shift to online retail as a result of the pandemic and the accelerating consolidation of offline retail has increased consumer confidence in shopping online. In the coming months we expect a portion of consumer demand will move back to stores as restrictions are eased throughout our markets, but we expect online penetration to remain structurally higher than pre Covid-19 levels.”
However, the firm cautioned that it continues to be “mindful of the uncertainty across our markets, notably the threat of renewed lockdown restrictions and the likely economic impact on our core 20-something consumer”.