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George Davies: 'I'm NEVER going to retire'

By newadmin / Published on Sunday, 29 Oct 2017 03:46 AM / No Comments / 12 views



George DaviesREX

George Davies is a celebrated fashion designer, retailer and father of seven


Fashion mogul George Davies has a confession to make.

“I’m a male lesbian,” he reveals with sincerity.

“I think like a woman. They’re the superior breed, you know.” 

From one look, George can tell you your exact size with surprising accuracy.

He reveals this enviable skill as we dine together in Mayfair. He’s just had a colonoscopy and received the all-clear, so after two days of fasting, a hearty feast is on the menu. He’s quick to ring his wife and jokes in a chirpy voice: “Wonderful news, darling. I only have a year to live.”

Bowel cancer is just one of the 75 year old’s health scares. In 1997, George had surgery for an abscess in his colon and in 2002 he went under the knife to remove a benign tumour on his brain. Coupled with his kind nature and sunny outlook on life, it’s no surprise to learn of his generous donations to health and education around the world. 

For the last 30 years, the celebrated fashion designer, retailer and father of seven has dominated the high street. He founded Next in 1982 and we’re still queuing around the block for those incredible Boxing Day bargains.

He pioneered the concept of selling whole outfits and we’ve never looked back. 

Next on the agenda was George at Asda, followed by his own collection at Marks & Spencer called Per Una, which he sold to the store for a staggering £125 million in 2004.

And in 2011, he launched a new brand called FG4, which is forging a path from the Middle East to shopping malls around the world. 

George could have kept his millions but instead founded the George Davies Charitable Trust. Since the early noughties he’s worked to support earthquake victims in Turkey, a school in Sri Lanka and many more worthy causes in the UK and abroad. 

“I don’t want to just give – I want to be involved,” he says.

George has funded medical research for years and has been made a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons. “I can’t operate on you, though,” he jokes. 

George’s latest donation is his biggest yet. He’s given £5 million to support vascular research at the University of Leicester and Leicester’s hospitals.

His gift has opened a new clinic at Glenfield Hospital to help prevent limb amputation in patients with vascular disease or type 2 diabetes. 

“I don’t want recognition for what I do – I want a win for the patients,” he says.

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Professor Robert Sayer, George, Professor Philip Baker and (right) staff at Glenfield Hospital

“With my donation, patients’ waiting times will be shortened by months. 

“That could save a limb.” 

Born in Lancashine to sausage maker George Snr and seamstress Mary, from the age of 16 the young George worked as a milkman and saved to buy his first car. His mother then enrolled him on a dentistry degree at Birmingham University, but it wasn’t for him. 

“I would never have been a dentist because I had clinical depression,” he reveals.

“I couldn’t concentrate. That changed me, even more than my brain tumour. You learn a lot more from adversity than you do from success.”

George can talk about it now, but he was in a dark place for years. However, he admits he would not have achieved all he has without it.

“You either give in or your fight it,” he says.

“I was lucky. Something inside me was strong. That fight gave me the determination to help others.” 

Leaving dentistry behind, young George began his career at Littlewoods department store – his springboard into the world of fashion. 

At that stage, football also played a big part in his life, but as an amateur England match approached, he had to make a decision and Littlewoods won. 


People ask me when I’m going to retire. The answer is never

George Davies


“I used to do all the retailing for Liverpool. They’re my team. It was great fun opening shops for Glasgow Rangers and Arsenal, too.” 

George quickly established his Schoolcare range then worked hard at a career in design and buying at Littlewoods.

“I was invited to see John Moores himself [the founder of Littlewoods] and spent a month in the mills to learn the basics,” he recalls.

“I travelled the world and I knew this was the job for me. I wouldn’t be here today without the grounding Littlewoods gave me. I absolutely loved it.” 

With Next, Per Una, George at Asda and FG4 under his belt, what’s his favourite project?

“The next one,” he smiles.

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George with model Mira Fodorova at the opening of his womenswear brand Give Store in London

“People ask me when I’m going to retire. The answer is never.”

As the owner of the world’s fastest private jet, the four-times married mogul shows no sign of slowing down. 

There is one more revelation to pass George’s lips during our feast and that’s his favourite shop: Primark.

“The Madrid store is the best shop I’ve seen in my life,” he says.

“It feels like you’re walking along a high street all under one roof.” 

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George with staff at Glenfield Hospital

If George ever takes off his high street hat, he knows the legacy he’ll leave behind.

“If I’ve done anything, I’ve changed retailing. Nobody thought mail order would take off. It’s all about the future, but it won’t be bright without our help.” 

For George’s latest fashion collections, visit fg4london.com and for details of his charity work, visit georgedavies.com.

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