Spare a thought for Asos.com techies: Topshop acquisition coincides with deadline for global retail system go-live

Impeccable timing


IT teams at Asos.com face absorbing massive stock and brand data in the company's £295m acquisition spree while at the same time finishing a global retail e-commerce system project.

The day after the go-live deadline for the online fast-fashion retailer's new Truly Global Retail (TGR), the company announced the acquisition of high-street brands Topshop, Topman, Miss Selfridge, and HIIT from failed retail group Arcadia in a deal worth £295m.

Asos said it will use its existing warehouse and technology infrastructure to absorb the stock – annual revenue at Topshop alone has been around £800-900m in the last few years. In a statement, the online-only retailer said it would be "transforming the digital experience through full integration into the ASOS platform."

Asos.com has not responded to The Register's request for comment, but its 2020 Annual Report [PDF] showed intangible software assets of £443.2m for the year. These mainly relate to the Oracle-based TGR. "The majority of assets under construction are expected to go live by end of January 2021," the report said.

Its 2019 report, meanwhile, revealed the scale of the booming retailer's ambitions with its new global technology platform. It said the company would "completely transform... internal systems capabilities across the business." It added that the firm was working "towards completion" of the TGR systems.

"TGR is a key component in supporting our global growth ambitions. These systems unlock much greater visibility and flexibility in how we buy, plan, merchandise and trade by warehouse. This enables better, faster decision making and improves our ability to give customers the best choice of product at the right price and to trade as a truly global retailer," the 2019 report said [PDF].

Although Asos did not mention the vendor at the heart of the new system, several LinkedIn profiles connect the TGR project with the Oracle Retail ERP system, which dates back to 2016. "Oracle Retail's planning and merchandising solutions will allow us to be more efficient in the way we target, ship and stock products globally so we can bring our ethos of dynamic, engaging fashion online to our customers globally," CIO Clifford Cohen said at the time.

Details of the deal have since been removed from the Oracle website. We have asked Big Red for comment.

As well as the ERP investment, the 2019 report said Asos had implemented new finance and HR systems, which likely relate to a deal struck with Workday, according to job ads and LinkedIn profiles.

If there's a crumb of comfort for the IT pros waking up to a gargantuan challenge, it's that at least some of the systems may be familiar to them. Philip Green's Arcadia Group made a £50m investment in Oracle systems in 2014. ®

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