George Breaks Free: Wal-Mart’s Asda Line Gets Own U.K. Stores

Wal-Mart has ambitious plans for its George apparel brand, rolling out independent stores and taking the line into wholesaling.

The line, named for Next plc founder George Davis, is designed from offices in Lutterworth, England, and is led by managing director Andy Bond and design director Kate Bostock, who oversee more than 300 employees. Teams there coordinate with Wal-Mart’s domestic product development team, led by Claire Watts, although there are indications the U.S. George collection will ultimately become more casual than its U.K. counterpart. Corresponding with the casual-Friday culture, “weekender” styles will be designed and sold here.

In a presentation in November at the WWD/CEO Summit in New York, Bond said George represents “affordable fashion and a phenomenal combination of design, quality and price.”

And the opening of George’s first freestanding stores doesn’t mean Asda believes growth in its own stores has reached its full potential. Asda plans to open between 30 and 40 of its own stores over the next three years. And Bond’s aim is to have every Asda customer buy a George product; currently, only about 30 percent of Asda’s 11 million weekly customers buy a George item of clothing. “So you can imagine what a huge challenge I’ve got,” said Bond last year. “But what a huge opportunity, as well.”
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