Moving from Greece to the UK stirred the store manager of Longchamp on New Bond Street’s passion for retail.
What does your typical week involve?
As manager of Longchamp’s New Bond Street store, I’m responsible for the day-to-day running of the shop, from recruitment and stock control to staff training, merchandising and product management. I work closely with Longchamp’s UK general manager, Paul Lorraine. We speak practically every day, in person, on email or on the phone. Longchamp’s UK head office is above the Bond Street store, but I regularly visit Longchamp’s three standalone London stores, as well as resellers and shop-in-shops all over the UK.
Our conversations are focused on Longchamp’s retail strategy to build a sustainable client base by enhancing our reputation through the luxurious store environment and personalised customer experience. I’m particularly focused on rolling out training programmes for the New Bond Street team, which consists of 11 people (excluding myself), while also reviewing all the store’s buying and merchandising needs.
What task are you most looking forward to today?
I’m having a health and safety meeting with a representative of the building regulations committee. For many this meeting might seem long and tiresome, but it is absolutely crucial and should never be underestimated.
How did you get to where you are today?
After finishing my BA in Sales and Marketing in Greece in July 2002, I did a postgraduate degree in Marketing at Stirling University, Scotland. It was my first time abroad. I had a few joint classes with the retail management course, during which my interest in retail really developed.
I moved to London from Greece in October 2004. I started as a temporary sales associate at Thomas Pink’s Sloane Street store. My intention was to gain selling experience before I travelled home to Greece. My plans changed when a stock manager position opened up in my first year at Thomas Pink. I took a chance on this as I wanted to diversify my experience. After eight months I landed my first supervisory role at the Thomas Pink on Fenchurch Street. In the next four years I progressed from supervisor to manager.
In October 2009 I moved to Selfridges to manage the men’s formalwear department. Then in May 2013 I changed jobs to manage two of Missoni’s London-based boutiques, where I gained a deeper understanding of luxury service.
I couldn’t miss the opportunity to join Longchamp in May 2014 as store manager. I was delighted to be part of a rapidly expanding company with such history and heritage.
What has been your career highlight?
Being part of the team to launch the beautiful revamped flagship store on New Bond Street on September 8 was a real highlight. The store features a 16-metre high mural on the main staircase painted by American artist Maya Hayuk. Maya’s style uses intricate geometric patterns and bold colours. Not every manager is lucky enough to work next to such a beautiful piece of art.
Who is your mentor?
Ant Foran, who was menswear department manager at Selfridges. He is one of the smartest people I’ve ever met. I would also say Madame Michèle Cassegrain, Longchamp’s director of boutiques. It is amazing to witness her drive, vitality and passion.
What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
Ant Foran once said: “Be courageous and ambitious, even in the smallest detail. Small details make up your brand and people take notice.”
How do you see your career progressing?
Longchamp is set to grow significantly over the next five years and I want to help it grow further. We are preparing to open more London shop-in-shops, and standalone stores nationwide. A new site is planned in London for early next year, plus stores in Glasgow, Manchester and Birmingham.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to follow in your footsteps?
Hard work and determination always get rewarded. Have a dream, but make sure you make a plan for the path you need to follow. Mishaps will always happen, so be prepared and move on.
If you could work in another area of fashion, what would it be?
If I were to work in another area of luxury fashion it would be shop floor design. I have always been creative and I find the combination of art and function thrilling.
- Salaries for this type of position are around £42,000 depending on the store (estimate by Vohs&Co)
2014 Store manager, Longchamp flagship, New Bond Street
2013 London boutiques and operations manager, Missoni UK
2009 Men’s formalwear manager, Selfridges
2004 Sales associate and supervisor, Thomas Pink
2003 MSc in Marketing, University of Stirling
2002 BA in Sales & Marketing, Alexander Technological Educational Institute of Thessaloniki, Greece