Asos suspends website after warehouse fire

Kasmira Jefford
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ASOS will this morning attempt to reassure investors after a fire at its main warehouse in Yorkshire forced the online fashion giant to suspend trading on its website.

More than 50 firefighters and 10 fire engines were sent late on Friday night to put out the blaze at Asos’ 530,000 square feet distribution centre in Barnsley, south Yorkshire.

Around 500 people were evacuated from the site, which can employ up to 3,000 staff on its busiest days and handles £1.2bn of sales for the group.

“Thankfully no one was hurt and we expect to be back to normal for you in the next day or so,” Asos said on its website yesterday.

South Yorkshire Police said the incident was being treated as deliberate and that a criminal investigation had been launched to establish the cause of the fire.

The group is expected to update investors this morning on the extent of the damage from the fire, which spread to four floors of the five storey building. “They are working hard to be up and running as soon as they can,” a spokesperson said.

The fire is the latest setback for Asos after a shock profit warning earlier this month wiped around £1.2bn off its market value.

The group said that a strong pound and heavy promotional activity meant full-year profits would miss forecasts by around 30 per cent.

The warning came just months after Asos announced plans to accelerate spending on new warehouse space in the UK and Germany to help meet demand at the expense of short term profits.

Asos has earmarked £68m of capital expenditure this year, which will help speed up deliveries and allow the group to handle £2.5bn of sales annually compared with the £1.2bn of sales it can currently process.

It is the second time Asos has suffered damage to one of its warehouses after an explosion at the Buncefield oil depot near to its former warehouse in Hemel Hempstead in 2005 forced Asos to suspend trading.