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George Davies plans 50 stores following FG4 UK launch

George Davies plans to open 20 FG4 owned stores and 30 franchises in the UK within the next 12 months, following a successful launch last week.

The founder of Next, George at Asda and Marks & Spencer’s Per Una brand introduced his FG4 womenswear and kidswear ranges to the UK market with a fashion show at a village hall in the Cotswolds on March 12.

The event raised money for a nearby school and involved local children and teachers as models.

A further five shows will take place in areas including Stratford-upon-Avon and Cheltenham over the next few weeks. Schools from other towns and cities, including Brighton, have since expressed interest in hosting events.

Davies is using the events to build awareness of the collection and gain feedback.

“The response from the first event was amazing,” he told Drapers. “We sold more than we thought we’d sell in an hour and a half and we’ve had people ordering online ever since. We were the talk of the town.”

FG4 was initially launched in Saudi Arabia in 2011 and operates via around 85 women’s and kids’ stores in the Middle East.

The spring 15 collections on show in the UK include women’s dresses priced from £40 for a floral print body-con style up to £65 for an embellished dress with maxi overlay, all available in sizes 8 to 18.

Girls’ tops start at £9 for a button-up tie-waist crop top to £15 for a floral print long-sleeve top with a Peter Pan collar in ages 3-4 up to 11-12, while boy’s print T-shirts start at £5 with various graphic print designs and belted denim shorts in pastel shades are £14.

Davies said the next stage is to open a mix of owned and franchise stores and the team is currently in discussion with potential franchise partners and property agents. “I don’t need to rush it, but I think it would be reasonable to say we’ll be opening 20 owned stores and 30 franchise stores within the next 12 months,” he said.

The owned stores will “set a standard”, he said, while the franchises will be in small towns and run by “people who know the community”.

While he admitted clothing franchises haven’t tended to work in the UK in the past, Davies said: “I like a challenge – people said selling clothes in a supermarket would never work. It [The franchise model] works well for the likes of Costa Coffee, but you don’t tend to get the service to franchise stores that it requires for clothing.

“Sometimes franchise agreements require people to pay a lot of money upfront, but I know all about shopfits, and sourcing them doesn’t have to be that expensive. The difference with this is you would have the wide experience of me and the team behind you to support it.”

Locations under consideration include where he is holding school events, such as the Cotswolds. He said: “I think it is far better to pick two to three areas and do it well. That way you can give the service and local knowledge, so as a starting point, where I have run or will be running the school parties would make sense.”

For a video from last week’s launch, go to Drapersonline.com

@Tara_Hounslea

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