Imagine the watch team of the world’s biggest department store 30 years ago and you’d picture well-stuffed, grey-haired men in suits poring over the latest chronometers.
Things are a little different at Asos, where the menswear team that handles watches is a group of very relaxed young 20-somethings who live for fashion, according to its head buyer Chloe O’Keefe.
The bottle of claret from Berry Brothers and Rudd that may have been used to wash away the stresses of the day is now replaced by a mojito in a retro-inspired drinking den in Camden that specialises in 90s Hip Hop. Are you feeling old?
Your business systems are probably also as outdated as a polyester suit compared to what is going on at Asos. “Being a worldwide retailer has put pressure on the business over the past year due to the exchange rates, however we have invested in zonal pricing by territory to ensure our pricing is competitive and stimulates growth,” Chloe explains in a glimpse into the complexity of working within one of the world’s biggest online fashion stores.
Asos treats watches like fashion brands that are hot one day and cold the next. “I heavily trade my departments to ensure we react to trends and sales with minimum risk as well as pre booking key styles/brands which have limited stock or longer lead times. Asos is so fast-paced that a downturn in a trend can happen overnight so it’s great to be able to manage that risk,” Chloe explains.
“Focus on building my Top 10 key suppliers, building options and relationships has accelerated growth and really step changed my department,” she adds.
That strategy has seen profits from watches outperform the rest of Asos in the past year, leading to some of Chloe’s ideas being rolled out across the fashion empire.