What happened and why Social distancing is an expensive habit. And in a bid to keep out the bad books, Asos (-13.96%) is working overtime in a bid to distance the company's reputation from online rag rivals, such as Boohoo (-9.36%). But in doing its best to set itself company apart and act sustainability, the company is expected to shell out £100m more than Boohoo next year alone on new tech and infrastructure. ASOS has come a long way from its novel online days of 'stack'em-high, sell'em-cheap' and in its latest update on Wednesday, chief, Nick Beighton, drove home his message about sustainability time and time again. Standards... Asos has been focused on looking after its suppliers, employees and the company is increasingly mindful of waste. That's 3 digs at Boohoo.Eyes everywhere... Despite 98% of Asos garms being made overseas, the group knows exactly where its products come from and who made them. Asos wants to be seen as a cut above teen-sensation Boohoo. But Boohoo’s margins are twice as high, largle thanks to the company's own brand labels (PrettyLittleThing, Nasty Gal, Karen Millen and coast) that bring with them fatter margin and profitability... albeit, in an unsustainable fashion. Marginal gains... Meanwhile, ASOS' European sister, Zalando, has margins consistently below 2%. ASOS which sells both is somewhere between, reckons its operating margins will rise to an enduring 6% once it has calmed down its growth spurt and marketing costs. But that doesn't stack up right now. Last year, the company trimmed costs and held back on marketing spend. That boosted the profit margins to 4.6% and delivered profits of £142m, but Asos reckons £45m of those bumper profits came from lower rate of returns. So actual margin on the threads was closer to 3%. 🎤👨 Meanwhile, back in the 80s (meow)... Next (-7.65%) and John Lewis shared differing fortunes, despite some positive signs at everyones go-to Christmas inspiration... Next banked £9m of profit in the past six months, despite sales tumbling 33% with the company's click and collect service covering up serious pandemic pain.For John Lewis... there is always a squeeze. The -£55m loss came after only a 10% slump in sales and some bumper numbers from Waitrose. For JL & partners, it has always been about Christmas, a time when the company cashes most of its cheques. But the debt pile is growing and getting spooky, sitting at at least 3x the money expected to come into the business this year. The push as an omnichannel retailer makes sense, but the company will have to review its store closures even further (they announced 8 closers already this year), with the latest data show stores actually only contribute £3 to every £10 spent by customers online... not £6 we once thought. | The Takeaway ASOS chief, Beighton, is keen to drive Asos into mature way of thinking and acting. That could be for two major reasons: Main Market listing... Asos is currently listed on the Alternative Investment Market (which carries a reputation as a bit of a wild west), and the company is rumoured to be lining up a full listing on the London Stock Exchange which brings bigger investors to the table.Ethical win... Acting sustainable is not as non-commercial as it once was. The rise of ethical investing and seen the market flooded with new funds that Asos is keen to tap into.