Blog: Leonie BarrieSupermarkets check out fashion

Leonie Barrie | 24 November 2003

The dust has barely settled after the fall-out between UK supermarket chain Sainsbury’s and designer Jeff Banks, but already there are signs that the supermarket fashion wars are hotting-up again. The decision by Tesco to expand its more up-market Finest brand into clothing for the first time shows just how much is at stake in this market – and how much growth potential these retailers still see in the non-food sector.

Leading the way is Asda with its ever-popular George range – the second largest clothing retailer by volume in the UK and the market leader in children’s wear - with annual sales around the £1 billion mark. It has even stepped into the high street with new stand-alone George stores, a move that takes it head to head with other low cost retailers such as New Look and Matalan. 

But while there is obviously no reluctance at the lower end of the market to throw cheap and cheerful fashions into the trolley along with the rest of the weekly shop, I wonder whether this sentiment will extend to the more pricey leather jackets that Tesco is proposing to sell? After all, it is already better known for its more value-conscious Florence + Fred and Cherokee lines.

The George range proved beyond all doubt that the concept would work, and I personally think Tesco could be on to a winner – particularly at the very big and successful stores where a lot of customers will get to see the new range. After all, we’re all strapped for time these days, and it wasn’t so long ago that I bought a suede coat in M&S – and then popped into the food hall for the week-end groceries!


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