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A day in the life - Maria Broomhead-Smith

Coast’s area manager on covering the Midlands and bringing its Oxford Street flagship to life.

I wake up to the sound of my alarm, which can vary from 3.45am to 6.45am depending on where I’m travelling to. My husband walks our dog Whisper, so I’m out of the house quickly. I’ve worked for Coast for 14 years and I always look like I’m going to an occasion, but I love it. It’s part of who I am. Even if it’s my turn to walk the dog I’ll wear my wellies with a dress.

I live in Derby and I’m a Derbyshire girl through and through. It’s right in the middle of the Midlands, which is great for my job. I drive a lot because my area runs from Sheffield to Milton Keynes, as far east as Lincoln and as far west as Telford, covering

28 locations and with 25 store managers reporting in to me. I like to get into my stores early so I’m with the manager and their teams at the start of the day.

The first thing I look at is the figures from the previous day. Even though we don’t have an overly competitive culture, I always like to see where I’m ranked, as there are 10 areas within Coast. Then I do a floor walk with the manager, which he/she leads talking about their business, the store, the products, our customers, the best-sellers, the trend in sales that week and what’s happening in the city or town that might impact sales. Then by mid-morning I’d take the manager for a coffee because we need to talk business.

The role of an area manager is to grow sales and drive bottom line profit. The store manager is given their target, and I’ve got an area target, which is part of the business target. So my job is to look at it, think of the commercial wins as well as observations in other locations and try to grow that business from that visit and drive a strong and profitable bottom line.

I’ve been really involved in the launch of Coast’s flagship store on Oxford Street, particularly developing the new customer service proposition that will set the flagship stores apart from the competition as the occasionwear specialist. Loucinda McCorry, the retail director, appreciates the importance of this to our brand strategy and created the vision.

My responsibility was to bring that vision to life. I wrote the service plan with the store manager, Emma Faithful, with particular focus to ensure every aspect of the flagship exceeded expectations. The store has three stylists that customers can book an appointment with and all of the sales assistants have been trained and sat an exam to become occasionwear specialists. If you were selling a beautiful car you would know every intricate detail of how the engine worked, and it should be no different buying or selling a dress.

The thing I love most about my job is the product – I adore it. I have the highest retention of staff within the business, and some of them have been with me for more than 10 years, which brings great experience to my area.

I try to get home for 7pm because I need to walk the dog. That’s my down time, and then I’ll do some work on the computer. Family time is really important to me, so if I have time I’ll see my sister and her four children, and luckily my husband is a marvellous cook. But my days are so full that I’m straight off to sleep when the 10 o’clock news comes on.

  • Salaries for this position range from £35,000 to £50,000 (estimate provided by Handle Recruitment)

CV

2004 Midlands area manager, Coast

2001 Area manager (various locations), Coast

1998 Visual merchandising manager, Coast

1996 National visual merchandising trainer, Oasis

1994 Oasis store manager

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