UK's ASOS resumes orders after warehouse fire

by Reuters
Monday, 23 June 2014 06:57 GMT

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LONDON, June 23 (Reuters) - British online fashion retailer ASOS said on Monday it had restarted taking orders after a fire at its main warehouse at Barnsley in northern England on Friday led to a suspension over the weekend.

The firm said it recommenced taking orders at 0100 GMT on Monday, and was fully insured for loss of stock and business interruption caused by the fire.

ASOS said that as of May 31 the business held 159 million pounds ($271 million) of stock at cost, of which around 70 percent was held at Barnsley Distribution Centre.

It estimated that approximately 20 percent of the total stock at the site had been compromised by fire damage and the sprinkler systems.

However, none of the technology, automation or structure of the building was affected by the fire.

"We have been advised by the South Yorkshire Police that after initial investigations, they are treating the incident as deliberate and have commenced a criminal inquiry," said ASOS.

"We are cooperating fully with this investigation."

The fire came just two weeks after ASOS warned that its full-year profits would miss forecasts by 30 percent.

A former darling of the retail sector, ASOS spooked investors in March when it announced plans to spend on infrastructure to meet future demand, at the expense of short-term profits.

Then a profit warning on June 5 wiped 1.2 billion pounds off its market value.

Analysts pointed to the full insurance cover and noted that ASOS' management has experience in dealing with a similar business continuity issue as in 2005 its then Hemel Hempstead warehouse in south east England was damaged by nearby explosions at the Buncefield fuel depot.

"Roll forward, ASOS are now bigger, uglier, more global and one would imagine less agile perhaps in their response," said analysts at Jefferies.

Shares in ASOS closed Friday at 2,752 pence, valuing the business at 2.3 billion pounds. ($1 = 0.5876 British Pounds) (Reporting by James Davey; editing by Kate Holton)

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