George Davies, the man who pioneered supermarket fashion and founded Next, and acknowledged as one of the UK's most talented fashion retailers, is leaving Asda.

Mr Davies, the creator of the George brand at Asda, has not renewed his contract which runs out on Tuesday.

But Asda, now owned by the US discounter, Wal-Mart, says the famous brand, which Mr Davies has built up to a £600m a year business in 10 years, will not disappear and the George name will not be changed.

A spokesman said: "He has done a tremendous job and built up a great team but we have known for some time that he may not be renewing is contract. The George brand is very successful and we would like to thank him for his enormous contribution. There will be no change to the George name. We have some very exciting plans for the future both in the UK and elsewhere."

George Davies was approached by Asda in 1990 to develop a separate clothing department within their supermarkets and the George label was born.

Under Mr Davies's leadership, George has grown into the country's fifth largest clothing retailer, with sales of £600m. Wal-Mart was planning to launch George in its American and German stores. The George brand set new standards in design, leading the way to make supermarket clothing fashionable and affordable. The brand's relentless drive to provide directional looks at affordable prices was recognised in May last year when it was awarded the Prima Award for Best Value for Money.

Mr Davies, who was out of the country and unavailable for comment today, said he was not leaving due to any dispute with Asda.

Dave Ferguson, president and CEO of Wal-Mart Europe said: "We are very sorry to see George go and thank him for his tremendous contribution to the business.

"He has built an incredibly strong creative team and we are very confident that everything is in place for the brand to go from strength to strength in the UK, Europe and globally."

Mr Davies' resignation comes just two months after Allan Leighton quit the company. He had been responsible for Wal-Mart's European operations.


By Deborah Bowyer