Nick Robertson, founder and chief executive of Asos, has sold £15m-worth of his shares in the company, the first time he has cashed in a significant portion of his stake since the online fashion retailer started in 2001.
Mr Robertson sold 18 per cent of his stake – 1.68m shares – at 890p. He still owns 7.74m shares, or 10.3 per cent of the company, and 901,635 share options.
When the company floated in October 2001 it was priced at 20p a share. In the past year the shares have risen 165 per cent to make Asos, trading at 36 times forecast earnings of 24.6p, the retailer with the highest price/earnings multiple in the sector.
Mr Robertson, who sold his shares to institutional shareholders, said he decided to sell now in order to spread his risk.
The news came as Asos announced first-quarter results. A shorter sale period and less discounting pushed up revenue by 48 per cent in the three months to the end of June.
Maxi dresses and denim shorts have been flying off virtual shelves over the summer, while the lower level of promotions boosted gross margin. UK sales rose 32 per cent to £38.8m and international sales more than doubled to £22.9m.
“International was 28 per cent of the business at the end of last year, but it’s 37 per cent now and still growing at over 100 per cent,” said Mr Robertson. “So actually, our £1bn target looks realistic.”
The retailer aims to reach £1bn of sales in five years. International sales will be boosted by the launch of country-specific websites for the US in September and for France and Germany later in the year.
However, Mr Robertson added a note of caution: “It is too early in the financial year to assume that these levels of sales will continue for the remaining three quarters.”
Asos announced in June that it was in talks with several high street retailers about allowing customers to pick up online orders from their bricks-and-mortar shops to avoid the hassle of waiting for deliveries.
Alliance Boots confirmed it had been in discussions with Asos and retailers suggested that WH Smith or Argos might be obvious partners for the group. Mr Robertson said talks were still under way with a handful of retailers.
The shares rose 53p to close at 949½p.
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