Asos plans new senior hires after disruptive year

Online fashion house Asos said today (16 October) that it is looking to add a raft of new c-suite roles to its board in the 12 months ahead, following a turbulent period.

The retailer has reshaped its executive team, and over the course of the current financial year it expects to add a chief growth officer, chief commercial officer, chief people officer and a chief strategy officer to sit alongside its CEO, CFO, CIO and COO.

In its final results statement covering the 12 months to 31 August, the business said the reorganisation “creates senior-level end-to-end ownership of our product and customer below the CEO for the first time”. It added that the respective teams sitting under these new roles have been established, and there is an expectation this move will provide a platform for successful expansion.

“We are strengthening the depth and breadth of our senior management team to ensure we are well set for the next phase of growth,” Asos noted.

Earlier this month, the company extended its board with the addition of four new non-executives. The new arrivals are ex-Sage Group chief people officer Karen Geary, Ocado Solutions CEO Luke Jensen, former-Sky chief commercial and strategy officer Mai Fyfield, and Eugenia Ulasewicz, who previously led Burberry’s Americas arm.

Changes at the top of the business come after CEO, Nick Beighton, acknowledged it has been a “disruptive” year for Asos – one which was punctuated with several profit warnings largely caused by problems rolling out new warehouse systems in the US and Germany.

It resulted in profit before tax for the year falling 68% to £33.1 million, down from £102 million in 2017-18. Group revenue rose by 13% to £2.73 billion, with international sales now significantly higher (£1.66 billion) than those generated in the UK (£993 million).

Asos said that its Berlin Euro Hub automation and mechanisation issues have now been resolved, with the facility operational as planned, while the move to rebuild product levels and sufficient stock in the US is “progressing well”. Both issues had caused major supply chain and availability disruption, as previously reported.

Beighton said: “This financial year was a pivotal period for Asos, where we have invested significantly and enhanced our global platform capability to drive our future growth.

“Regrettably this was more disruptive than we originally anticipated. However, having identified the root causes of our operational issues, we have made substantial progress over the last few months in resolving them.”

Steve Miley, a senior market analyst at broker service Ask Traders, said Asos will be pleased to put the last financial year behind it.

“Times are changing and the online retailer is struggling to keep up,” he noted.

“It now has significantly stronger competition in the likes of Boohoo and Next to contend with. However, after a year of heavy investment and restructuring costs, it should be in a better position to take on the challenges of the year ahead.”

He added: “Shares have dropped over 50% across the past year from a high of £50 just 12 months ago to £25.60 at yesterday’s close.”