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LONDON — George, the clothing and accessories line from Wal-Mart subsidiary Asda, is sharpening its fashion focus with a new line called Must Haves.

The new collection, which recently bowed in all Asda stores here, is a capsule of the season’s “icon” looks with rapid-fire delivery cycles of four to five weeks. Prices range from 3 pounds ($5 at current exchange) for a striped sailor shirt to 12 pounds ($21) for a fully lined, belted cotton dress with broderie anglaise.

“Everyone wants increasing access to fashion. It’s an enormous growth category for us,” said Angela Spindler, who took over as Global George managing director late last year, replacing Andy Bond, Asda’s president and chief executive.

Global George is the business that designs, merchandises and markets the collection to Asda and Wal-Mart stores worldwide. Each country works within parameters set by the George design team and can tap into Wal-Mart’s worldwide sourcing network. George has global sales of 1 billion pounds, or $1.74 billion at current exchange.

Spindler said the new line would not launch immediately at Wal-Mart stores in the U.S., but that Asda hoped to roll out the collection there. “The U.S. market is huge for us, and we’re making great progress there. We will be talking to them about Must Haves.”

She said the countries likely to take on the new collection first are Mexico and Canada, which are “delivering results similar to those in the U.K.” with George.

Spindler, who was previously Asda’s trading and marketing director specializing in food, said the “bull’s-eye customer” for the new collection is the young mother ferrying her kids around the store. She said these are women who are shopping for food and children’s clothing and who want something stylish for themselves.

The line will be merchandised alongside the other George fashion lines — from ski and activewear to bridalwear — and will feature 12 items that can be combined to create three different outfits. In addition to the dress and striped top, the collection includes knee-length shorts and an asymmetric-hem skirt. Must Haves also features footwear, children’s wear and men’s wear.

Spindler said her job in Asda’s fashion division isn’t so different from her role in food.

This story first appeared in the April 4, 2006 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

“It’s about planning, overcoming commercial challenges and making sure the product gets to the customer on time. And, of course, staying close to the customers’ needs.”

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