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George at Asda to hold prices despite VAT rise

George at Asda managing director Anthony Thompson has vowed that the value retailer will not push up ticket prices on January 1 despite VAT returning to 17.5%.

Speaking at the Drapers/WGSN Fashion Summit this week, Thompson said: “We will go straight into the new year with continuity in prices and there will be no sudden increases.”

Decisions about prices further into next year for spring 10 collections have been made with the same benchmarks, he said. “We have priced products in the same way as we always do, and looked at how to get the best price for our customers. We will continue to do this regardless of the VAT change.”

The move came as George revealed it will roll out a productivity scheme in Bangladesh next year. The retailer piloted a project this year to improve efficiencies in conditions at the factories it uses, in a bid to show that retailers can offer low prices without compromising on quality or ethical standards.

George and its partner, German overseas development organisation GTZ, have invested £90,000 inthe pilot with five Bangladeshi factories.

l Retailers speaking at the Drapers/WGSN Fashion Summit slammed designer footwear label Jimmy Choo’s decision to create a range for Swedish fast-fashion chain H&M.

Joseph Wan, chief executive of Harvey Nichols, which stocks Jimmy Choo, said: “The decision doesn’t bother me as a business. [But] there is no doubt that in the luxury market, having a designer associate itself with a more high street offer will affect the psychology of the consumer that will spend thousands of pounds with a designer in some specific cases. Our selling point is having exclusive pieces.”

Touker Suleyman, owner of womenswear label Ghost and shirt specialist Hawes & Curtis, said: “To have tied up with H&M is detrimental. H&M should be talking to designers who are struggling and supporting young talent.”

However, shoppers voted with their feet on the launch day of the Jimmy Choo for H&M collaboration last Saturday. Queues formed overnight outside H&M’s 19 UK and Republic of Ireland stores which are selling the product.

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