Look at the latest numbers: two-thirds of sales are from outside the UK, with Russia and China still to come on-stream. Solid performance in the notoriously hard-to-crack American market is impressive enough. But the European figures are if anything even more admirable. Expanding in the Eurozone sounds like a recipe for disaster these days: for more traditional clothes firms, it probably would be. In the fourth quarter, Asos’s EU sales grew 73 per cent year-on-year. Over the whole year, they grew 51 per cent.
Asos, it seems, is not doing anything like anyone else. While it dips a toe into the potential of emerging markets, it has built a model that can work well even in Europe’s debt-submerged markets.
That model is brilliantly digital-first. Disruptive pricing and fast access to the latest looks are the core of the business, but that is supported by a social-media-driven fashion finder and neat technical flourishes like the Virtusize fitting technology. Asos is a firm without high street baggage, and it has played to that strength superbly. We need more UK innovators like this.