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Founder of Next believes the fashion industry needs more women in control

By Vivian Hendriksz

28 Sept 2016


The founder of high street retailer Next, George Davies, believes the British fashion industry needs more women in leading roles.

During an interview on BBC's Radio 4 You and Yours programme, Davies, who is also the man behind the George at Asda label and Marks & Spencer Per Una line, argued that more needs to be done within the industry to ensure women are promoted to director level, as they have "more vision than men" and would help boost companies.

"If there was better representation of them in executive teams maybe the high street wouldn't be struggling as much as it is,"said Davies during the radio show. His statements were welcomed by campaigners from the Women in Retail, who say the fashion retail industry remains a "boys club."

According to research released earlier this year by the group, 60 per cent of the employees in the retail industry are women and 85 per cent of all retail purchases are made or influenced by women. However women only make up 20 per cent of executive teams and 10 per cent of executive boards within the industry.

"[Women] work quicker and harder than men," added Davies. "The retail industry needs people who visit stores and understand customers and that's why I think the gender mix on executive boards should be at least equal." The entrepreneur, who has been credited with paving the way to success for M&S Per Una line, says he has always made sure he is "surrounded himself with women" at work. For example, the board at his apparel label, FG4, consists of 51 women and 19 men.

Fiona Davis, director at Women in Retail, believes the results indicate the retail industry remains somewhat of a "boys' club" and that women lack the confidence when it comes to applying for top jobs in the sector. "Retailers are missing an opportunity to maximise their talent pool," said Davis. "They need to walk in the shoes of their customers and they're not doing that without the right gender balance in their board rooms."

Photos: Next, Facebook