Retail guru George Davies is considering a return to fashion with the launch of a clothing range for independent department stores.

Davies is understood to be in the early stages of negotiations with independent department stores and the UK’s largest independent department store buying group Associated Independent Stores (AIS).

AIS has a membership of 270 stores and 611 specialist retailers, and turnover of around£1.8bn.

Davies is keen to work with independents rather than their mainstream peers in order to maintain control over his ranges, according to sources.

The retail entrepreneur left his role at Marks & Spencer at the end of last year, seven years after he launched the womenswear range Per Una. At the time, he said he wanted to launch a new range for women over 25.

Independent department stores including Beales, Allders and Vergo Retail, which owns the Lewis’s department store in Liverpool among others, would benefit from a range from Davies, who also founded Next and the George at Asda brand.

Davies declined to comment on a specific move into independent department stores but said he was exploring various avenues for his next move in the fashion arena and had not signed to any venture yet.

He expressed particular interest in e-tail, where he said he wants to launch an offer that is very different to what is already in the market. “I am looking closely at doing a website,” Davies told Retail Week. He said he believed the market was moving more towards online.

He added: “In this period I have the opportunity to step back and see where the market is. When you are up to your eyes running a business you can look but not really see it.”