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Wal-Mart Confirms George Rollout Plan

NEW YORK — Wal-Mart Stores’ British-born George apparel line is pulling out the stops.<br><br>After launching the line’s women’s wear in 1,600 Wal-Mart stores last fall, the discount giant will roll out its new fall-holiday...

NEW YORK — Wal-Mart Stores’ British-born George apparel line is pulling out the stops.

After launching the line’s women’s wear in 1,600 Wal-Mart stores last fall, the discount giant will roll out its new fall-holiday offering of career wardrobe essentials in its 2,780 stores this month.

The new line includes fully lined blazers, jackets, skirts, and pants, as well as sweaters and cardigans and stretch shirts and trousers, at $11.96 to $26.96.

George men’s wear was introduced last December and will be in over 2,000 locations this year.

“The George brand has had phenomenal success providing department store fashion at savings to our European Asda customers,” said Celia Clancy, senior vice president and general merchandising manager of women’s and children’s apparel. As reported, second-quarter sales of George in Asda stores were up almost 30 percent. George Davies, previously a Next designer, launched the line 12 years ago at the British retail chain, and has since left the company.

The full U.S. roll out of the label is just another hand in a game where discounters keep upping the fashion and brand ante, in apparel as well as home goods. Target Corp. has offerings from Mossimo, Cherokee, Stephen Sprouse, Todd Oldham, Philippe Starck, Michael Graves and, more recently, Liz Lange with a maternity collection set to hit stores late this year.

At the Goldman Sachs Global Retailing Conference last week, Target’s chief financial officer and executive vice president Douglas Scovanner noted that “each and every year, Wal-Mart gets better and better at apparel,” forcing his company to stay on its toes.

Wal-Mart is already the biggest apparel and accessories business in the world, with estimated sales of at least $25 billion — more than $30 billion if Sam’s Club is included. Still, there’s plenty of growth left in the category for Wal-Mart, since it has estimated that 50 to 53 percent of its customers don’t even buy its casual sportswear.