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The BBC's John Moylan
"No-one can accuse M&S of not taking its core fashion offering seriously"
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Friday, 2 February, 2001, 12:55 GMT
Designer George hired by M&S
george davies
George Davies: the new face of Marks & Spencer
The man who once said: "I would not go to M&S. I am not that kind of person" has changed his mind.

George Davies, who successfully built up clothing chain Next and the George range of clothing at Asda, has been hired by the troubled retail giant Marks & Spencer to launch a new womenswear collection.

"It will be aimed at the fashion-conscious woman who defines herself by attitude, not age," the company said on Friday morning.

The range will be launched in October in up to 100 stores in specially refitted areas.

It will not carry the 'George' label since Walmart-owned Asda owns the rights to the brand.

Next to Asda

George took the UK High Street by storm in the 1980s after he set up the popular Next chain.

He built the clothing retailer into one of the UK's top 100 companies but left in 1988 after a disagreement with the board of the company.

At Walmart-owned Asda, he was the brains behind the highly successful 'George' range of clothing.

But he parted company with Asda last November after a decade of designing for them.

Speaking following the announcement by M&S on Friday morning, he said: "To try to keep up with the woman that you are targetting, you've got to be very fashionable and you've got to be very quick. This is very quick, but it's achievable".

M&S saviour?

Marks & Spencer will be hoping that this key appointment will signal a turnaround in its fortunes, especially its flagging clothing sales.

The retailer recently announced a dreadful set of Christmas trading figures, down 5% in the four months to mid-January.

At the time, M&S chairman and chief executive Luc Vandevelde admitted that his stores' fashions "simply aren't good enough".

Earlier this week, he appointed Yasmin Yusuf, the woman behind the 'Warehouse' brand of women's clothing, as creative director for M&S.

Shares in M&S rose following the announcement and stayed higher - up 16.5p at 240p at close of trade Friday.

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