Asos plans London expansion with 1,500 extra staff

Online fashion retailer seeks specialists in technology, marketing, content and retail to add to 2,500 employees at Camden HQ

Online fashion retailer Asos has unveiled plans to hire 1,500 staff at its London headquarters and to double domestic manufacturing of its own-brand clothing.

The company, which employs 2,500 people at the site in Camden, north London, said it expected to spend about £38m on additional specialists in technology, marketing, editorial content and retail as it aims to double sales over the next five years.

It is investing another £40m in building an additional 40,000 sq ft (3,700 sq metres) at its base at the art deco Greater London House, formerly the Carreras cigarette factory, to house the extra workers.

Nick Beighton, the chief executive, said Asos expected to open several more manufacturing facilities in the UK over the next three to four years, in order to double capacity from the two factories which make about 4% of its own-label products at present.

The move is good news for UK fashion manufacturing, which was decimated in the 1990s when work moving abroad but has begun to see a renaissance in recent years amid rising costs in China and increasing demand for high fashion made quickly.

Asos has been investing in training workers in the capital for more than five years at a factory in Haringey, north London, which employs about 100 people, 40 of whom are stitching dresses for Asos, Marks & Spencer and online specialist Finery.

Asos’s UK investment is the latest financial commitment to the UK by a major digital business. It follows significant investment announcements from Facebook and Google, which plan to increase their staff numbers in the UK, despite fears that Brexit would make the country a less attractive place to invest.

Alongside a number of British online retailers, Asos has benefited from the drop in the value of the pound, because almost 60% of its sales are outside the UK.

Asos said the renovation of its HQ would include new staircases and light wells, a health club, training academy and “quiet zone library”, plus a tech bar and concierge service for staff.

An artist's impression of the Asos auditorium
An artist’s impression of the planned Asos auditorium at Greater London House, which will be part of a £40m expansion. Photograph: Asos

Beighton said: “Our people are what make Asos special. We are creating a workspace that fosters creativity, where they can enjoy what they do.”

Asos is one of the companies that have come under scrutiny over working practices at their warehouses in recent months, after the Guardian’s disclosure last year that temporary workers at Sports Direct were being paid less than the minimum wage.

Neil Derrick, the Yorkshire regional secretary of the GMB union which has led protests against conditions at a warehouse near Barnsley which handles distribution for Asos, said: “We welcome the announcement of 1,500 new jobs at Asos but not when GMB’s concerns for the workers in Yorkshire have been completely ignored.

“The company’s growth is on back of workers in their Yorkshire warehouse, yet there seems to be a huge disparity between how Asos staff in London and workers in Yorkshire are treated. Conditions in Barnsley are frankly shocking and have caused the GMB grave concern over the past two years.

“If Asos want to provide ‘fashion with integrity’ as they claim, working with us to make their Yorkshire site a decent place to work would be a start.”


Nick Fletcher and Sarah Butler

The GuardianTramp

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