On June 13, 2009, George Davies revealed to the Financial Times that he was to launch his fourth fashion business under the name of GIVe as in George 1V – his fourth large fashion venture. The small "e" represents the e-commerce (internet element) of the company. The company has also been named GIVe because it is Davies' intention to donate part of the profits to charitable causes – he was quoted in the Sunday Times as expecting this figure to be up to 10% of the company's profits.
In a recent article in the Sunday Telegraph, the architect of Davies' sacking from Next, Sir David Jones, was cited as one of the motivations behind the decision to launch the current brand, GIVe. Davies revealed that it was an informal conversation over a drink with Sir David in early 2009 that convinced him to launch GIVe when he was seriously considering whether it was a risk worth taking or not.
Sir David Jones confirmed the conversation: "I remember the conversation well," "Believe it or not, George Davies and I are very good friends after 25 years. George is an outstanding individual – he started Next, he did George at Asda – and he's a passionate man. Life is too short to hold grudges and I wish him well."
GIVe opened its doors in 25 towns and cities across the UK in October 2009 and, according to the FT, provides Italian-inspired, high quality women's fashion clothing at affordable prices. The move (in a recession) is typical of Davies who spots a niche, observes what the competition are doing and then does the opposite. In a June 2009 independent poll conducted by Drapers Online, 100% of the voters agreed that the new venture would be another success story for Davies.
Davies describes the range of Italian-inspired luxurious women's wear as "affordable luxury" and the target sector as being women over the age of 30, although Davies recently commented that "it's not about age, it's about attitude".
In July 2009, Drapers reported that Davies was in advanced discussions with House of Fraser and Dutch retail group Maxeda to take GIVe to a new dimension in terms of store coverage from Spring 2010. It was suggested that the potential high-profile partnerships demonstrated the "serial brand maker's" commitment to creating a fourth “mega brand” in order to shake up the fashion sector - Davies had been openly critical of the UK’s homogenous high street in 2008.
In August 2009, Retail Week revealed the locations for GIVe's first stores. Under the headline "Fashion legend George Davies has secured a raft of shopping centre deals for his new venture Give", the magazine correctly confirmed GIVe's first chosen store sites. In addition to Regent Street, Bluewater and Meadowhall stores, GIVe is opening in Liverpool, Cribbs Causeway, Kingston, Glasgow and Harrogate in October and November. Sixteen independent retailers (including 10 Beales shops) across the UK entered into joint venture agreements with GIVe to carry the range in a large concession-style deal which also opened in October 2009.
In the run-up to the brand's launch Davies agreed an exclusive deal with women's fashion magazine Grazia.. Describing the brand GIVe "as the most exciting story to come out of retail this year" and "from what we’ve seen it's set to be a major new fixture on the British high street", Miller revealed that she and her Editor-in-Chief, Jane Bruton, had been given a preview of the new range which Davies kept very firmly under wraps prior to the brand's launch in October 2009.
On 22 September, Grazia featured a 24-page promotion dedicated to GIVe and some of its clothing and accessory range. Grazia also highlighted that Emma Trayner (Davies' second daughter) has also played a large part in the selection and design input into GIVe's collection.
In an interview with the Business section of The Sunday Times, Davies confirmed that he had invested over £20,000,000 of his own money in the new venture. He told the paper that he planned to donate up to 10% of the company's profits to charitable causes. He also revealed that he was in discussions to take the brand global and that he would be disappointed if GIVe did not see sales of £50m-£60m.
Davies was described by The Week as being "indefatigable" - in other words incapable of being tired out; not yielding to fatigue; untiring. Elle magazine commented that "the designs are still underwraps, but we hear we should expect chic womens wear to rival the likes of Whistles and Karen Millen".
Davies believes that many large high street retailers have failed to react quickly enough and embrace the power of the internet and its impact on the consumer, including the use of social network sites such as Facebook and Twitter to get the message of new product into the public domain. In an interview in Retail Week, Davies comments that "I’ve had to understand a lot of new things like Twitter, Facebook and blogging because that's the route consumers have gone. I feel the high street has left itself open to the rise of that sort of medium."
Davies also revealed to the magazine that the new GIVe stores include in-store internet kiosks giving customers real-time stock information as well as video content of the store's garments on a catwalk (the shopper will scan a bar code into the system and get instant video feedback of what the chosen garment looks like on the catwalk). In addition the same in-store system will allow shoppers to order home delivery.
In a September 2009 feature in The Mail On Sunday, the fashion and lifestyle journalist Liz Jones (a lady with a reputation for upsetting many of her readers with her strong and often outspoken views) wrote: "It (GIVe) is terribly old fashioned and incredibly high tech, all at the same time. What I like about George Davies is that he listens to what women want; if only the likes of Marc Jacobs would do the same. He asks my opinion on what the style advisers should wear on the shop floor. I tell him I’m tired of seeing young, beautiful women looking fabulous and intimidating in every shop. I tell him we want these women to be older, and to wear neat black uniforms with sensible shoes to give our shopping experience a retro and subservient air. ‘OK,’ he says, ‘you’re right. That’s what we’ll do!’" When the stores opened on 1 October 2009, the stylists were dressed entirely in black uniforms.
Speaking to the Financial Times in December 2009, Davies discussed his intentions of taking the GIVe brand overseas. It had been widely reported that he was in discussions with several different groups in India and the Middle East and was considering launching the brand outside of the UK in the second quarter of 2010.
In the Drapers Record Magazine "Top 100 Influential People" published in December 2009, George Davies became a new entry at number 9.
GIVe was effectively closed for any further trading in early 2011 and the holding company that was its parent company, "Sporter Ltd" was put into receivership in September 2011.
Read more about this topic: George Davies (retailer)
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