Adam Crozier, the former chief executive of ITV and Royal Mail Group, is being lined up as the next chairman of Asos, the British online fashion sensation.
Sky News has learnt that Mr Crozier has been identified by AIM-listed Asos’s board as the leading candidate to replace Brian McBride, its chairman since 2012.
An announcement could be made about the appointment as soon as this week, according to a person close to the company.
If confirmed, it will add the Asos role to a growing portfolio of directorships for Mr Crozier, who stepped down as chief executive last year.
Since then, he has become chairman of Whitbread, the FTSE-100 hospitality group which is preparing to demerge its Costa Coffee division; Vue Entertainments, the cinema operator; and Stage Entertainment, the Dutch theatre producer behind the Lion King and Les Miserables.
His appointment at Asos will underline the growing maturity of the 18 year-old company, which achieved a significant milestone last November when it overtook Marks & Spencer in terms of its stock market value for the first time.
Image: ASOS London HQ
Since then, Asos’s shares have continued to trade higher, with the company now valued at £5.1bn, against M&S’s £4.79bn.
That comparison is ironic because Mr Crozier’s former boss at ITV, Archie Norman, is now the chairman of M&S.
It also underlines the diverging fortunes of bricks-and-mortar retailers and their online peers, which are not saddled by the same tax regimes and fixed cost-bases as their traditional rivals.
One source pointed out that by becoming chairman of Asos, Mr Crozier would be completing a transition from companies – such as ITV and Royal Mail – facing disruption from digital rivals to one partly responsible for that disruption.
Sky News revealed Asos’s search for a successor to Mr McBride last month.
It has become one of the most prestigious roles in the British fashion industry as a result of its stellar stock market performance.
In the food retailing sector, Ocado, a start-up that was for many years derided by high street rivals, has also proved sceptics wrong by striking a series of major deals with international grocers.
Mr McBride’s departure from the Asos board will not leave him short of work.
A former boss of Amazon in the UK, he chairs Wiggle, the online bikes retailer, sits on the board of AO.com, the white goods e-commerce site, and is a senior adviser to Scottish Equity Partners, which has backed companies such as Skyscanner, the online travel group.
Asos’s success has spawned a huge number of imitators, with other online fashion start-ups now joining the race to go public.
Farfetch, which is expected to be worth more than $5bn, could list in New York later this year, while the global luxury brands powerhouse LVMH recently backed a funding round by Lyst, another digital fashion platform.
The recruitment of Mr Crozier as chairman of Asos will complete a shake-up of its top team, with Nick Beighton replacing founder Nick Robertson as chief executive three years ago.
Mr Robertson remains on the company’s board and continues to be a substantial shareholder.
Announcing its half-year results in January, Mr Beighton said:
“Our customer engagement is going from strength to strength and we’ve achieved more than a billion site visits for the first time.
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“Alongside our investment in our people and our technology, we are accelerating investment in our distribution and logistics, laying the foundation for £4bn of net sales, a further step in building Asos into the world’s number one destination for fashion-loving 20-somethings.”
Asos could not be reached for comment on Monday.