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Asda hopes to bridge north/south divide with George's online launch

Asda will use the internet to capture fashion spend in the south of England as it vies with rival Tesco to become the first supermarket to launch an online clothing offer next year.

George global sourcing and development director Jon Wragg told Drapers that the web would drive Asda's clothing presence in the south, where its George label is under-represented in stores. He said: "It will also enable us to launch new product categories, including niche products, and sell more petite and plus sizes."

Up to 1,000 George lines across men's, women's and kidswear will be available online from February 2008, which is likely to be ahead of Tesco's plans for a complete launch. Although Tesco trialled selling clothes online last year, digital advertising agency WARL, which has been developing Tesco's clothing website, said it would be difficult to get all the retailer's brands onto the site before 2009.

George at Asda will also launch a menswear collection for its young fashion brand G21 this autumn, as menswear sales at the supermarket continue to grow.

The 40-piece range, which is due to hit 25 stores in September, will be available in towns and cities including Leeds, Brighton and Edinburgh for autumn 07. Half of the collection will go into a further 40 stores across the UK.

George head of buying for menswear Mark Selby told Drapers that like-for-like sales in menswear were up by 4% compared with last year, and that the business wants to get more male customers through its doors.

He said: "A lot of wives buy clothes in Asda for their husbands, but with G21 we're hoping to get men themselves to shop in our stores. By targeting university towns, we'll be aiming for male students who already shop at Asda for food. Hopefully they will start shopping for clothes too."

The collection will mostly be comprised of basics, including T-shirts and trousers, with prices starting at £6 for a T-shirt.

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