Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large

Man behind Next to launch regional brand

George Davies, the man behind the major British-based retail brands Next and George at Asda, is set to make his regional debut with a new line of clothing tailored for the Middle East consumer.

George Davies, the man behind the major British-based retail brands Next and George at Asda, is set to make his regional debut with a new line of clothing tailored for the Middle East consumer. The first of an initial 60 children's clothing stores will begin to open in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and possibly Bahrain from October, in conjunction with the Saudi Arabian retail conglomerate Fawaz Alhokair, Mr Davies said. This marks his first partnership and the first chain he has launched entirely overseas.

The clothing will be geared towards the region's specific needs, such as climate. "What basically has happened in the past is franchisees, they produce the product in America or the UK ? I'm not doing that. I'm actually producing the product for the country," Mr Davies said. The new brand will be called FG4, which stands for Fawaz, George and "for" anyone, he said. It will start off with clothing for children, before adding womenswear and menswear to the line, he added.

The new venture comes during one of the toughest periods for the retail industry in the region. Sales, globally and in parts of the GCC such as the UAE, slowed after the onset of the economic downturn. But the slowdown has opened a window of opportunity for FG4, said Mr Davies. The Adams chain of children's clothing stores has gone into receivership and Fawaz Alhokair, the regional franchisee, had many vacant stores in the region, he said.

The business case is made stronger by Saudi Arabia's population of 29 million, meaning it is the largest market in the GCC. FG4 is also the first brand to be developed in house by Fawaz Alhokair, said Simon Marshall, the chief executive of Fawaz Abdulaziz Alhokair Fashion Retail. "We've always been in the franchise business where we manage franchises and we believe it's part of our evolution to do our own brand," he said.

FG4 will initially start out with 60 children's clothing stores, but in two years may reach 500 stores across the region, including the UAE. There has already been interest in the brand from Russia, South America and Europe, said Mr Marshall. Neither Mr Davies nor Mr Marshall would disclose the amount of investment involved in the FG4 launch. Since last December, Mr Davies has visited the region periodically to gain an understanding of the nuances of the Saudi Arabian and Egyptian markets. But there are some logistical problems unique to Saudi Arabia. Rules prohibiting men and women who are not related from meeting in public means Mr Davies cannot conduct focus groups with his potential female consumers, as he has done in the past. Observing what is in fashion among women in Saudi Arabia is difficult too, as the abaya is mandatory in public. But Mr Davies said he was confident that his female staff would be able to conduct these on his behalf.

"In the next few weeks I'm coming back over and I've got to get closer to the consumer but not just in Riyadh and Dammam and all those top cities," he said. "I've got to understand it in the smaller places." aligaya@thenational.ae

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 The Greens, villas: Q1 no change. 3BR - Dh210-250,000. 4BR - Dh210-260,000. 5BR - Dh220-300,000. Q1 2013-Q1 2014 5% rise. Pawan Singh / The National

In pictures: Where Dubai rents have risen and fallen, Q1 2014

Find out how rental prices in the prime locations in Dubai have altered during the first three months of the year and the current rates you will pay according to data provided by Asteco.

 Above, the private pool of Ocean Heights' five-bedroom penthouse flat. Courtesy Christie’s International Real Estate

In pictures: Penthouse flat is height of Dubai luxury living

A five-bedroom penthouse in Ocean Heights in Dubai Marina is on sale for Dh25 million and comes with a private pool and an unparalleled view of Dubai.

 The cooling towers of the Temelin nuclear power plant near the Tyn nad Vltavou in Czech Republic. The country wants to continue expanding nuclear energy capacity despite cancelling a tender to build two new units. David W Cerny / Reuters

In pictures: Best business images for the week to April 17, 2014

Here are some of the best business images for the week to April 17, 2014.

 A sign points the way to an outdoor market popular with German visitors on the Polish side of the German-Polish border. Sean Gallup / Getty Images

In pictures: A decade since the European Union went east

May 1 will mark 10 years since the European Union expanded east, taking in countries like Poland, the Czech Republic and the Baltic states as new members. And though the border region between Germany and Poland is flourishing with trade and cultural exchange, the open border has also brought a sharp rise in crime.

 The Wind, Energy, Technology and Environment Exhibition takes place from April 14 to April 16. Above, the Dewa showroom during last year’s Wetex. Jaime Puebla / The National

April corporate and economic calendar for the UAE and overseas

From Cityscape to Wetex to stock-market holidays to nations reporting first-quarter GDP figures, here is our helpful calendar of April's business events in the UAE and internationally.

 Get the latest information on credit cards, bank accounts and loan products in the UAE. Mark Lennihan / AP Photo

Rates report: Latest on UAE loans, accounts and credit cards

Souqamal.com brings you the latest interest rates on banking products in the UAE.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National