Serial brand creator George Davies is on the brink of inking a deal with department store giants House of Fraser and Dutch retail group Maxeda to catapult his GIVe womenswear venture to the next level for spring 10, following its launch this autumn.
Davies, who founded Next, George at Asda and Marks & Spencer’s Per Una sub-brand, is understood to be in advanced talks with HoF, which has 62 stores, along with Dutch department stores Vroom & Dreesmann and De Bijenkorf, part of the Maxeda group, which have more than 70 stores combined. A tie-up with Maxeda would see Davies reunited with former Asda chief executive Tony DeNunzio, who chairs Maxeda. The duo worked together at Asda in the late 1990s.
The high-profile partnerships demonstrate Davies’ commitment to creating a fourth “mega brand” to shake up the sector - he has been openly critical of the UK’s homogenous high street in recent months.
It was previously thought Davies planned to focus on partnering with independent department stores and open a handful of standalone stores. He is close to signing seven shops to open this autumn (see box), when the collection will also debut in 16 independent department stores including Austins in Newton Abbot, Devon, and Elphicks in Farnham, Surrey, alongside several branches of Beales and Arnotts in Dublin.
Davies declined to comment on the HoF deal but stressed the GIVe brand would have “controlled distribution” regardless of the type of partner. The brand, which Davies described as “affordable luxury” is likely to sit alongside Karen Millen, Reiss and Whistles and will be Davies’ first stab at the premium market.
He said: “What’s important is if you move into a high level [of the market] what goes with it is a measure of exclusivity. I’m not trying to become 100 stores.”
Davies said indie department stores remained a key plank of his growth strategy. “Some are starting to take a far more contemporary approach and they try hard to get a good level of service, which is important.
Davies added: “GIVe is not like Per Una or anything else I’ve done. You’ve got to move on.”
HoF chairman Don McCarthy said: “George is an experienced operator and it’s good he is bringing new ideas to the table in this market.”
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