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Sales go GaGa for online fashion firm

PARTY gear helped to generate 30 per cent rise in sales at internet fashion retailer Asos over Christmas.

Lace and underwear as outerwear inspired by Lady GaGa has been one of the key sellers for the company.

Chief executive Nick Robertson said: “I’m the happiest retailer in the UK, nobody else has produced figures of 30 per cent. We couldn’t continue growing at the rate we were.”

Sales at Asos were up 38 per cent in the 42 weeks to 17 January. That compared with 46 per cent when it last updated the market in November and 104 per cent for the year to March 2009 as a whole.

The slowdown has caused some investors to worry that the firm is going in the wrong direction.

But Roberston added: “It is a slowdown but this is what we’re planning to do. This is going to be a more normalised rate of growth, 30 per cent is a phenomenal achievement in the current climate.”

Asos brought forward the January sales to clear excess stocks in 2008. But this time round it bought more carefully in the run up to Christmas 2009 so as to avoid being caught out again.

As a result margins climbed 0.8 per cent in the five weeks to 3 January.

The firm said it is on track to make profits of £20m this year, up from £14.1m a year ago.

The company is also planning to launch a US-specific site later in 2010. Asos currently sells to 150 countries from the UK site but sees the US as a key market.

It said was on track to achieve full-year sales of £230m this year, up from £165m last year.

Poor weather over Christmas helped the sales boost as customers went online rather than brave the big freeze.