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Asos aims for £1bn as web sales thrive

ONLINE fashion retailer Asos plans to invest £40m in its capacity after reporting a 44 per cent annual profit rise yesterday.

The company is aiming to grow into a £1bn business within the next five years.

It has signed a lease on a 1.2m sq ft warehouse in Barnsley as part of the strategy.

Asos targets internet-savvy 18-34 year olds looking to copy the designer looks of celebrities like Kate Moss, Sienna Miller and Alexa Chung but at a fraction of the price.

Asos has defied the recession, benefiting from a young core customer base and the migration of spending from the high street to the internet.

The company has also undertaken an expansion into overseas markets with the US, France and Germany among the countries targeted.

Chief executive Nick Roberts said: “A lot of our customers are less hit by the downturn because they are so young.

“They are really interested in what they will be wearing on Friday and Saturday nights which is where we come in.

“The business is growing and we hope to hit the £1bn mark as we expand our capacity.”

The company said recent trade has been stoked by robust demand for maxi-dresses and skirts, shorts, Wellington boots, sunglasses and clogs for the summer music festival season.

The firm plans to launch a US website in September and sites for France and Germany will follow later in the year.

The new warehouse, which will replace an existing operation in Hemel Hempstead, will have initial capacity for £600m of annual sales after an investment of £20m this year.

It will be fully operational by mid 2011, under the company’s expansion blueprint. Asos made a pre-tax profit of £20.3m in the year to 31 March ??– bang in line with analysts’ consensus forecast, from £14.1m in 2008-09.