Asos is the latest in a string of pandemic winners to lose its shine, following the departure of its chief executive and a profit warning for the coming year.

“We are not immune,” said Mat Dunn, Asos chief financial officer who became the day-to-day temporary boss, noting that top-flight digital companies that have been so successful during the lockdown are struggling with the same. perfect storm of problems facing the largest retail business.

Soaring air and shipping costs, supply issues, shortages of warehouse workers and drivers, rising wages and customers returning more products have prompted nervous investors to erase contracts. billion in the value of UK e-commerce darlings.

“A year ago, there was the widespread assumption that online retailers would continue to have their evil way against their brick-and-mortar rivals,” said Russ Mold, chief investment officer at AJ Bell.

“However, the last few months have shown that even for online retail there is no such thing as a free lunch. There is still a lot of hard work and we are seeing inflation in input costs, bottlenecks logistics and public pressure on the issue of supply chains and procurement. Most of those companies working with relatively tight operating margins now find it much more difficult, it’s a tough market. “


A big winner in branding as traditional Main Street retailers succumbed to the pandemic, Boohoo has snagged household names such as Debenhams, Dorothy Perkins and Burton. But a 64% drop in pre-tax profits in the half-year to the end of August, pushing its share price to half of what it was a year ago, is testament to the difficulties the company is currently facing. John Lyttle, managing director, pointed to a doubling of the cost of air freight to the United States and shipping costs for products from East Asia tripled or even quadrupled, as well as “the last year. more difficult in terms of recruitment and salaries. ”. The pace of sales growth was slowed down from 50% in the UK at the start of the year to 19% in the quarter at the end of August.

AO World

Earlier this month, more than £ 200million was wiped off the online retailer’s market value after blaming driver shortages and supply chain issues for below-expectations profits. The missed sell targets in the UK and Germany resulted in a 23% drop in the Bolton-based company’s share price, making it the first index of the FTSE 250 on the day of the announcement, and its market capitalization is down about a third from last time. year. The £ 64million in pre-tax profits fueled by the pandemic last year are just a thing of the past, with the company telling investors to expect a level of between £ 35million and £ 50million this year.


The online grocery delivery company reported its first-ever drop in sales in August, as the pandemic-triggered home shopping boom faded as shoppers returned to stores amid restrictions social distancing have eased. Trading at almost £ 29 in January, investors have lowered its share price by around 45% to £ 15.70 this year. Last month Ocado said it plans to spend up to £ 5million to hire and pay delivery drivers and warehouse staff as labor shortages continue. The company’s performance was not helped by the fire at its warehouse in Erith, caused by the collision of three robots, which caused Ocado to lose 300,000 orders.

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The Hut Group (THG)

Hut Group’s £ 4.5bn IPO last summer was the biggest listing in five years, with the Manchester-based company hailed as a great UK e-commerce success story. Riding the wave of the locked-in e-commerce boom, the company’s stock price hit highs of nearly 800p in January, and as recently as August, its billionaire founder Matthew Molding continued the claim. building his empire by buying the beauty company CultBeauty for £ 275million. But a plan presented in September to break THG, and amid concerns about a general slowdown in online shopping, shares of the loss-making company fell nearly 30%. It is currently trading at 428p, well below the level the THG was floating at just over a year ago.

CMC Markets

The share price of the financial spread betting firm run by city tycoon Peter Cruddas has fallen by a quarter in the past year as the foreclosure trade boom fades to as pandemic restrictions have eased. In September, the FTSE 250-listed company issued a profit warning reducing its annual profit forecast from £ 80million to between £ 250million and £ 280million, although the company says if transaction volumes have eased, the overall number of customers is still up by around a third on pre-pandemic levels.

And a traditional retailer… ABF, owner of Primark

With no online shopping service, Primark’s business has come to a halt as the pandemic has closed its stores. But pent-up demand for cheap clothing from the fast fashion retailer has fueled record sales as shoppers return to physical stores. Early summer sales exceeded pre-pandemic levels, with more than half of its stores breaking sales records, with many offering extended hours to take advantage of the resumption of shopping. The share price of parent company ABF is only 6% lower than last year. Primark’s sales struggled alongside the retail industry as a whole, with buyers staying at home during the “pingdemic” of June and July. However, the company raised its profit forecast for its year to September 18 and reassured investors that while it faces supply chain issues, there would be no problem with it. racks and shelves empty before the Christmas Eve “Golden Quarter” sales period.