The assistant manager of womenswear chain East’s Harpenden store knew retail was the career for her.
What does your diary look like today?
This morning we have a meeting to discuss targets for the week and to make sure everyone is up to speed. We open at 9am and my day is typically spent on the shop floor helping customers, which also means using the in-store technology such as our iPads to search for items that might be out of stock, checking and responding to emails in the back office and sorting out the admin – which includes payroll, staff rotas and ordering supplies for the store. I also go over the reports from head office on what’s selling well, and we often change our visual merchandising based on that information. In the afternoon I’ll assess sales from each area, then I’ll sit down with a member of the team to go over their performance and set their personal targets.
What event are you most looking forward to today?
I love launching new collections as I like the store looking fresh and commercial. And with my experience, I always know what my customers will like.
What task do you wish you could postpone?
The dreaded admin, but I don’t let it build up. This then gives me time to interact with the customers.
How did you get to where you are today?
At college I trained as a nursery nurse but knew it was the wrong path for me. Retail fitted in with being a young single mum.
I began working in supermarkets, where I volunteered for any department, making my way from cashier to supervisor, to department manager and then to assistant manager. I was offered the chance to work as manager at a new concept store in London called Chocolat Chocolat. I took over the running of the second store in Cambridge, which we then expanded to run chocolate-making courses. After a few years I felt I was ready for a new challenge and was lucky enough to be offered the position at East.
What has been your career highlight?
Being given the opportunity to move into fashion has definitely been the highlight.
Who is your mentor?
Currently our branch manager Jill Ellison, who acts as a regional support manager for the central region. She lives the East brand!
How do you see your career progressing?
I want to establish my store as one of East’s top performers and I would love Harpenden to become a training store for new staff in the company.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to follow in your footsteps?
Don’t take your work home and don’t bring home to work.
If you could work in another area of fashion, what would it be?
I love customer service so I’ve always wanted to have some form of contact with the public.
Salaries for this position range from £22,000 to £25,000 (estimate provided by Michael Page International)
2011 Trainee manager, East
2010 Assistant manager, East
2002 Manager and chocolatier, Chocolat Chocolat
1995 Checkout supervisor then grocery manager, Sainsbury’s
1990 Assistant manager, Early Learning Centre
1989 Checkout supervisor, Tesco
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