“Biggest ever” Black Friday drives sales at Asos

Asos has revealed positive peak trading figures for the four months to 31 December 2019, thanks to a successful Black Friday campaign.

The online clothing titan reported an increase in UK sales of 18% to £408.9 million compared to the same period last year. International retail sales were also positive with a 20% increase to £666 million, while total group revenue increased 20% to 1.1 billion.

Following on from a difficult 2018-2019 which saw warehouse troubles leading to two profit warnings, CEO Nick Beighton called the results an “encouraging start to the year”.

Speaking on a media call to journalists this morning, the CEO said Black Friday had “surpassed expectations” with Asos managing 2,000 orders every minute at the peak of trading. Beighton said during the busiest Black Friday trading moments, the retailer sold a black dress every second and a wedding dress every minute.

“We could not have delivered the growth rates we’ve done globally without a very smooth operation in our warehouses,” he said, referring to the issues surrounding its Eurohub and Atlanta distribution centres, which Beighton said are “largely behind us”.

Beighton added that the retailer was pleased with its customer engagement efforts which included social media and targeted promotions. Asos added 1.4 million customers over the four-month period, compared to 1.9 million in the entire 12 months last year.

Emily Salter, retail analyst at GlobalData, also noted how the results provide a “promising start” for Asos after a turbulent FY2018/19.

‘‘The retailer is showing signs of recovering from last year’s warehousing fiasco that dented sales, with international sales rising strongly and UK revenue hot on their heels,” she said.

“The online pureplay reported a ‘record’ Black Friday, contributing to a better than expected sales performance over the four months. Before the event, Black Friday 2019 was hailed by the retailer as being its ‘biggest ever’, learning from its mistakes in 2018 when poor sales over the period led to a profit warning. Rival boohoo.com also posted a strong performance over Black Friday, with both retailers emerging, unsurprisingly, as overachievers despite the context of a highly promotional market, in which Asos discounted frequently in the lead-up. This appeared to have little impact on consumer willingness to purchase, with the retailer offering up to 70% off selected items.”

Salter added that Asos has been quick to adapt to consumer demands, including introducing a ‘responsible filter’ which allows shoppers to identify sustainable products. Meanwhile, an AR tool called See My Fit enables shoppers to see what a selection of dresses look like on models of different sizes and heights.

Referring to the retailer’s sustainability efforts, Beighton said he believed Asos is “leading the way” after many years of working on its internal Fashion With Integrity programme which focuses on people, product, packaging and zero-carbon.

“Customers don’t have to worry about sustainability because we take care of it for them,” he said.