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George has renewed focus on customers, says MD Nick Jones

George, Asda’s clothing and homewares brand, has been “refocused” to ensure all products are relevant for its target customer, its managing director, Nick Jones, told Drapers this week.

Jones took over the day-to-day running of George from Fiona Lambert when she was promoted to vice president of product development design at Asda in January.

He said his first priority had been to make sure there was “consistency and clarity” across George about who was buying its products.

“There was a sense that we had lost our way a bit,” he said. ”It’s not about copying what everyone else is doing – it’s about giving our shoppers fashionable, affordable and relevant products.

“We worked on getting greater integration across teams, making sure our design team and buying teams are working together, and that it is crystal clear who they are buying and designing for.”

George has a 20% share of the kidswear market by volume and Jones described it as a “standout” category, although he would not give an indication of where it sits as a percentage of total sales.

“Womenswear is obviously big for us as well, as it is predominantly a female shopper in Asda,” said Jones. ”But our kidswear really stands out and we want to bring everything else up to that level.” 

Jones said there will be further integration of home and clothing in 2016, as George evolves into a lifestyle brand. In some cases this will simply involve moving homewares beside clothing in stores.

Greater integration between online and store sales will also be key for the business in 2016.

“Some of it will be simple – like making sure there are clear messages in store about the online offer – but the big opportunity lies in click-and-collect.

“Between 70% and 80% of all online sales are collected in store. It’s a fantastic opportunity to upsell. The introduction of [Asda’s] ToYou click-and-collect service for third party brands in November works, as it drives traffic to our stores.”

Over the past couple of weeks, George has introduced kidswear and baby clothing into 100 Walmart stores in Canada. Asda is owned by the US retailer.

Jones said there was an opportunity to roll this out to Walmart stores outside Canada. He also mooted introducing some Canadian outerwear brands into George in the UK.

Jones described George as a “pioneering brand”, as it was the first clothing line launched by a supermarket 25 years ago.

“We wanted to get the swagger back into George, to get our confidence back,” he explained.

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