Dalton Philips, the new boss at Morrisons, is ringing the changes and next on the list is a big move into clothing. To that end he’s talking to fashion business veteran George Davies, the creator of Next, George (for Asda), Per Una (for Marks & Spencer) and GIVe for himself.
GIVe, his high street fashion punt, has not been a success and Davies is rolling it into this children’s clothing business FG4. But GIVe is quite revealing about the ebullient Davies. The mystifying brand name apparently stands for George IV, his fourth fashion business not the foppish former Prince Regent familiar to some of us from Blackadder.
So George is hardly a shrinking violet and any deal with Morrisons willl be costly for Philips. Davies owned the Per Una brand at Marks & Spencer until M&S bought it from him in 2004 for an estimated £125m.
The question for Philips is, does Davies still possess the magic to make a success of what would be his fifth fashion venture? The competition is much hotter now with Asda, Tesco (Florence and Fred) and Sainsbury’s (Tu) all fighting for higher margin non-food sales.
Up market contender Waitrose also has the option to move into clothing in its larger stores through its department store parent John Lewis which sells a few million pairs of socks and knickers.