LONDON — Matchesfashion is hoping it can find luck with number four.
The luxury online fashion retailer has hired Nick Beighton as its new chief executive officer, the fourth in the past five years, succeeding Paolo De Cesare, who joined the company less than a year ago, as CEO.
Beighton left his post as CEO of Asos last year after helping to turn the business into to a 4 billion pound operation.
He joined Asos in 2009 as acting chief financial officer before taking the big job in 2015. His experience has always been in leading high-street and fast-fashion companies. Prior to Asos, Beighton was head of finance and an executive board member at Matalan, steering the business toward technology.
Beighton serves on the Tech Future Fifty program advisory panel, the Retail Sector Council and is chairman of Secret Sales.
The appointment of Beighton is an unexpected turn, largely due to the fact that he comes from a retail background that doesn’t deal with the same designer and luxury price points as Matchesfashion.
Under the leadership of Beighton, Asos became a rising star in the marketplace by carrying fashion, beauty, homeware and technology before any other leading U.K. retailer.
Those who’ve worked with him describe him as charismatic, but not necessarily diplomatic. “He tells you want he wants. There is no conversation,” said one former employee, describing his style as as “fast-paced and brash. He’s very consumer-focused, and [sales] volume guy.”
Another former employee said that “people love him. He’s a retailer and understands what customers care about.”
Asos topped LinkedIn’s annual “Top Companies” list in 2018; the research looked at which organizations Britons would most like to work for. The company took the top position because of its performance in 2017, with sales and headcount increasing by 30 percent with a promise of hiring 1,000 more people.
In the results, Asos beat the BBC, Compagnie Financière Richemont, Kering, Selfridges Group, Apple and Goldman Sachs.
Asos’ features such as same-day delivery and a “Try Before You Buy” tool grew the company’s sales by 18 percent in 2016. Innovation is where Beighton has seemed to strike with his best ideas that translate into numbers. The success of Asos under Beighton was achieved by treating the overall business as a package rather than solely focusing on selling to twentysomethings.
The company has 17 of its own brands that champion different aesthetics and which have grown into a module that accounted for 40 percent of sales in 2021.
Asos was in its heyday after Beighton’s appointment in 2015, with the company’s editorial arm producing the in-house title Asos Magazine, which became the U.K.’s most-read fashion title in print. The magazine reached more than 500,000 subscribed readers with its celebrity covers, including Taylor Swift, Jennifer Lawrence, Lady Gaga and Zoë Kravitz. The magazine closed in 2019 after a 13-year run.
Now Beighton faces the task of returning Matchesfashion to the glory days it had under its founders Tom and Ruth Chapman. The retailer has the technology, sustainable initiatives, editorial team and both traditional luxury brands and new ones to get back on the growth path, plus three London stores.