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A day in the life - Laura Southern

Topman’s buyer for brands and concessions keeps a close eye on online and the shop floor.

My alarm goes off at 7.15am but I always snooze until 7.30am. Then I get up and get ready, throw my clothes
on - usually oversized sweats with leggings and trainers, I like the androgynous look - and do my make-up and hair before leaving the house. I live in Islington and I catch the tube to Oxford Circus, pick up a coffee from Tap on Wardour Street and then walk to the Arcadia offices.

I get in for about 9am and spend at least an hour going through my emails, before sitting down with my team of two - an assistant buyer and a buying assistant - to go over the day’s priorities. I manage 60 brands and concessions across clothing, footwear and accessories at Topman. It is pretty hectic in terms of schedules.

My background is in online having come from Asos, so that’s a big focus for me at Topman and I work closely with our online team. Since joining I’ve taken control of the look and feel of the brands on the site, and I managed our first ever branded shoot, which we did in Chinatown.

My day also includes brand appointments, which can either mean them coming into the office or me heading out to see them. I’ve been working a lot on [young fashion brand] Hype, which has done really well since launching with us in November last year, with plans to roll it out to 50 stores. I also work closely with our merchandiser, Natalie Cowan, who is great, and every Tuesday we go down to our Oxford Circus flagship to do a floor walk with the store team and the merchandising team.

For lunch I’ll pop out to a sushi place called Abokado, or to Chipotle, a nice little Mexican place.

I’ve spent a lot of time with our buying director Phil Cooke going over strategy and reviewing brand performance.

Another task is to be on top of online processes, making sure each product has gone live and in the right category. I also have to look ahead at the promo calendar and check delivery schedules so we can do online features around new launches.

I started my career on the shop floor at Topman Oxford Circus and didn’t do the traditional university route. I got a temping job with Tesco’s buying team before going permanent there. In 2006 I left to join Asos. I love my job at Topman because I was just on clothing at Asos, but now I get to work across categories I’m learning so much.

Time management and communication skills are important because you have to speak to so many departments throughout the day whether it’s design, director level, management, your team, or working with the other buyers.

I think it’s about prioritising and understanding the big deals of the day, because you can’t get caught up [in the smaller things].

My day can finish anywhere between 5pm to 7pm, and then in the evenings I like to socialise with my friends at one of the local pubs in Dalston. I’m normally in bed by midnight, I can’t stay out late any more. I have too much to do at work, so I have to be focused.

  • Salaries for this position range from £55,000 to £65,000 (estimate provided by Henry Fox Recruitment)


2013 Buyer, brands and concessions, Topman
2010 Buyer, trend and premium brands, Asos
2009 Assistant buyer, men’s denim and street brands, Asos
2006 Buyer’s assistant, men’s brands department, Asos

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