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The kids clothes are alright
A giant of the UK high street fashion industry is launching a kids clothing brand in the Middle East. And, with more than 100 stores slated for this year, he’s not messing around.
March 13, 2011 3:57 by Sidra Tariq
What do apparel brand Next and the Per Una collection in Marks & Spencer have in common? Both were designed and run by George Davies, a 70-year-old English fashion designer and retailer.
There is another common factor: both are present in the Middle East in franchised stores. However, these are collections that were launched in the UK and made their way into the Middle East market. The designer behind the two clothing lines has recently launched a childrenswear brand primarily for the Middle East, in partnership with Saudi Arabian retail conglomerate Fawaz Alhokair Group.
FG4 – which stands for Fawaz, George and For – is targeted at children aged between 0 and 14. The brand’s first store was launched on Feb. 15, 2011 in Riyadh Gallery, a mall owned by Alhokair Group, which is one of the largest retail groups in Saudi Arabia (owning 11 of the Kingdom’s malls). At least 120 FG4 childrenswear stores are expected to open in 2011, targeting areas such as Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Egypt and Kazakhstan.
According to Davies, two stores will be launched in malls in Dubai as well, with dates to be confirmed shortly. He says that he also had plans to launch three stores in Egypt, but these have been delayed because of the unrest in the country.
Davies says that he had decided to launch the brand after Fawaz Alhokair had approached him for help. Alhokair had given him a call and suggested the launch of a children’s clothing line after Adams – a UK kidswear brand that had stores in the Alhokair Group malls – had gone into liquidation.
“Around 70 stores became available to me,” says Davies. “I told Fawaz I can help you but I’ll have to come out and understand the country. So I came out and met up with him.”
Davies says he liked the challenge and enjoyed the educational phase that came with launching a new brand, and hence decided to go ahead with it. He studied the market and also held discussions with women in Saudi to learn about their interests and those of their children.
According to Davies, the FG4 clothing line has been tailored to suit the regional market. As opposed to some European brands that create clothing that suit European temperatures and send them here, FG4 takes the climate in this part of the world into consideration, he says. “FG4 is a European designed garment, but it is in fabric that is suitable for the climates of the hotter countries like Saudi Arabia,” he adds. “What I mean is, instead of using a 12-ounce denim which will be for European use, I will use an 8-ounce denim.”
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