LONDON, July 15 (Reuters) - Online fashion retailer ASOS forecast annual profit towards the top end of expectations as it reported a 10% rise in sales for the four months to June 30, benefiting from trading through the Covid-19 lockdown while store-based rivals shuttered shops.
The British group, which is focused on the 20-something demographic, said on Wednesday its sales were 1.01 billion pounds ($1.27 billion), up from 919.8 million pounds in the same period last year.
While UK sales fell 1%, international sales were up 17%.
ASOS ASOS.L said it saw a steady improvement through the period, reflecting increasing warehouse capacity and an underlying improvement in demand.
Its active customer base increased 16% to 23 million and the number of items sold rose 15%. However, gross margin fell 70 basis points, reflecting the lockdown product mix.
Against the backdrop of social distancing, ongoing restrictions of events and an uncertain economic outlook, ASOS said it remained cautious on the short to medium term outlook on demand.
But despite that and material incremental Covid-19 costs it still forecast 2019-20 pretax profit towards the top end of market expectations.
ASOS also said it would repay previously claimed job retention furlough support from the UK government.
($1 = 0.7943 pounds)
(Reporting by James Davey; editing by Michael Holden and Sarah Young)
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