Asda said today that the UK homewares market is "there for the taking", as it announced a multi-million-pound investment in the launch of George Home.
The Walmart-owned supermarket has set its sights on becoming Britain's biggest multi-channel general merchandise retailer, and says the new George Home range is part of a five-year strategy "to redefine value retailing in the UK". Asda is already the UK's leading supermarket for homewares.
The company is sinking £250m into improving product quality, style and design over the next five years, and as part of this investment will increase the existing number of homeware lines it sells by 25% to 4,000.
These 1,000 new lines within the George Home collection, which will be on sale from March, will comprise home accessories and soft furnishings such as cushions, bedding sets and towels along with everyday home essentials such as cutlery and dinnerware, with prices starting at 35p.
The George brand has, until now, been applied only to Asda's clothing ranges.
Andrew Moore, chief merchandising officer for George, said: "The housing market has rebounded with rising confidence that's encouraging people to renovate their properties, and despite a generally tough economic climate we've seen that our customers still want to treat themselves and their homes with smaller value items such as a new cushion, bedding sets and towels.
"Through our global expertise in George we're in a prime position to bring the product that people want, at unbeatable prices they won't believe, in whatever environment they want to shop in...We're able to tap into the joint buying power of Walmart to help lower the cost of essentials and utilise their new online technology to improve our multi-channel capabilities.
"The UK general merchandise and homewares market is there for the taking and we're in the best place possible to fill what we currently see is a gap for stylish but affordable homewares."
Over 75% of Asda customers are now shopping online, and over Christmas 60% of all online general merchandise and George purchases were made using Asda click and collect. The launch of George Home will therefore be supported by a dedicated online store that will house all the product in one place.
Walmart is also currently implementing new online technology to upgrade all its shopping sites. Ultimately, the aim of the new global platform will be to connect every product in the world to every customer in the world and let them shop for it in whatever way is most convenient for them.
The full range of George Home products will be available online from March 28 at george.com and selected lines will be available in stores.