Davies brings his Saudi kidswear venture to UK

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The Independent Online

George Davies, the fashion entrepreneur behind George at Asda, and Per Una at Marks & Spencer, is to bring his childrenswear concept to the British high street.

The FG4 chain, which he is launching in Saudi Arabia and Egypt in January, will open two or three stores in the UK next March.

Mr Davies set up FG4 in partnership with a Saudi property and retail company, Fawaz Alhokair Group, earlier this year. In Saudi Arabia it will fill the gap left by childrenswear chain Adams, which had a large store network with Fawaz Alhokair Group but fell into administration last year. Mr Davies plans to bring his new chain to the UK using the stores currently occupied by his struggling womenswear brand GIVe.

He invested millions of pounds in the womenswear chain when he set it up a year ago, but last summer, just eight months after it launched, tough trading forced him to close some of the six stores.

He had said that he planned for GIVe to reach 25 stores, and hoped to compete with the higher end of the high street, which he dubbed "affordable luxury".

However Mr Davies has conceded that the high-street market for womenswear is a tough one at present, and that his buying power could not compete. He said: "The whole point of being entrepreneurial is to try things, test them out and experiment. If people don't test things in a recession then we will never recover."

Despite the setbacks, Mr Davies says he plans to continue developing and improving the GIVe brand, and will continue to sell it in independent department stores in the UK. A move into India is part of a plan to sell the brand overseas.

But the GIVe name is likely to disappear from the UK high street, as he will concentrate on wholesale rather than retail for this brand.

Mr Davies added: "I am still positive. I love the retail sector and I am still learning"

In Saudi Arabia Davies plans to open 70 FG4 stores from January in Fawaz Alhokair Group shopping centres, and is due to expand into young fashion with a further 30 stores from March.