Asos has ended its long search for a new chief executive, placing current chief commercial officer José Antonio Ramos Calamonte in the hot seat.
Who is Asos’ new leader and will he be able to help the business navigate through this difficult time?
Who is José Antonio Ramos Calamonte?
The incoming CEO joined Asos last year from leading Portuguese fashion company, Salsa Jeans, where he was chief executive for almost two years.
Asos former chair Ian Dyson cites his “stellar fashion and retail CV”, which spans giants such as Inditex, Esprit and Carrefour Spain. He initially started his career at McKinsey, which should ensure he also has strategic nous.
Dyson adds that since joining the business in early 2021, Calamonte has “done a superb job as chief commercial officer”, driving its product and trading strategy globally, while making “huge changes to the commercial and trading function”.
“José is the perfect person to lead the delivery of the exciting plans we’ve laid out for the business. And his deep fashion retail and ecommerce experience will also stand him in good stead as we look to navigate through a difficult economic and consumer environment,” he adds.
Calamonte says that “Asos is without a doubt a very special company. I am really excited to have the opportunity to devote all my energy and passion as CEO to turn Asos into the global destination for fashion loving 20 somethings.”
As well as Calamonte’s vast fashion experience, he also brings much international expertise having spent 18 years working across Europe in countries including Spain, Germany and Portugal which will be invaluable in driving Asos’ international business, which accounts for 56% of its sales.
Prioritising quality and price
There’s no denying that Calamonte takes over during a difficult time for the etailer. It’s twentysomething customer is being hit hard by the cost-of-living crisis.
Asos flagged this week that it expects sales to grow between 4% to 7%, a far cry from the soaring sales we’ve historically seen from the etailer, and adjusted pre-tax profit will fall between £20m and £60m – a sisnifcant downgrade from its previous guidance of £110m to £140m.
Despite this warning, Calamonte stresses that he is “totally committed” to Asos’ strategy which was created by him and his team last year. The strategy focuses on three main pillars: own-brand, fulfilment on behalf of partners, and international growth.
Calamonte says he’s “convinced that it is the right strategy that builds on the right pillars” and adds that he’s “pretty pleased to see that we have seen good progress against this strategy in spite of the changing consumer sentiments.”
“What we need to make sure is that we adapt to this new situation, obviously, we developed the strategy in a completely different macroeconomic moment,” he admits.
“How we adapt to this inflationary environment is going to be very critical.”
He says that Asos needs to focus on delivering outstanding value for money to its customers.
Calamonte says Asos keeps a keen eye on its competitors prices.
“Our obsession is always to remain competitive,” he says.””We are always make sure that our value proposition remains competitive.”
“We don’t want to compete with the cheapest, we want to offer the best value for consumers in the shape and form of fashion.”
As shoppers cut back on their spending habits, has demand for fashion plunged as people focus on buying essentials such as groceries?
Calamonte says that Asos hasn’t “seen that yet”, although he admits that Asos’ return rates are soaring.
He believes that shoppers are probably checking their bank balances and seeing less money in their accounts than expected, causing them to return what they deem non-vital purchases.
However, Calamonte is confident that Asos can weather the cost of living storm: “We think we are very well geared to be a winner at the end of this crisis because of our fashion credibility and our capacity to offer fashion for for money.”
“We still think we’re well positioned to capture our fair share of what is a huge total addressable market,” he adds.
Asos may have a difficult year ahead but Calamonte clearly sees a bright future once the current cost-of-living clouds break.