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Next founder says fashion needs more women in top posts to help high street

Published 28/09/2016

George Davies has called for more women to be appointed to top jobs in British fashion,
George Davies has called for more women to be appointed to top jobs in British fashion,

Retail grandee George Davies has called for more women to be appointed to top jobs in British fashion, a move he believes will help boost the high street.

The veteran retailer, founder of Next and the man behind George At Asda and Marks and Spencer's Per Una range, said women have "more vision than men" and that men over 30 "dress like their dads".

Speaking to BBC Radio 4's You And Yours programme, Mr Davies said: "If there was better representation of them (women) in executive teams, maybe the high street wouldn't be struggling as much as it is."

"(Women) work quicker and harder than men. 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 75-year-old added that he has always "surrounded himself with women" at work. The board of Mr Davies' current venture, fashion chain FG4, is made up of 51 women and 19 men, a 67%-33% split.

"I always say about men, when it comes to fashion they can be as trendy as hell until they're 20 years old but as soon as they're 30 they dress like their dads - that's why retail is struggling," he added.

Earlier this year, campaign group Women In Retail published research that showed only 20% of executive teams and 10% of executive boards are female - despite 60% of those employed in the industry being women and 85% of all retail purchases made or influenced by females.

The research suggested retail is often perceived as a "boys' club", that women lack confidence when applying for top jobs and that there is a lack of provision for flexible working.

Fiona Davis, director of Women In Retail, said: "Retailers are missing an opportunity to maximise their talent pool.

"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."

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