Ben McCabe, managing consultant – International Fashion, at Quest Search and Selection, on how to become a merchandising manager for an international fashion retailer.
A career in buying is often favoured, however the responsibility and career progression in merchandising have often proved to be more fruitful. Graduates with an analytical degree will start their careers at allocator or merchandising assistant level earning £15,000-£19,000 on average, where you learn the ground rules of the business and all the merchandising principles. Employers search for bright individuals typically with a maths or finance background, a good command of numbers, and a love for Excel is imperative. What makes a really good merchandiser develop to merchandise planning manager is someone that has empathy with the product and is commercially aware of latest trend and developments.
As merchandise planning manager you will be responsible for sales and budgetary control of a multi-million pound department and managing a team of people. The best merchandise planning managers have a customer-facing mentality together with rock-solid numeracy. Working in a franchise model the merchandise planning manager will have a strong understanding of international brands and a good grasp of the supply chain process from country to country. The role will involve regular travel to the regions to ensure the brand is performing to its maximum capability and to ensure there is brand consistency.
Merchandise planning manager level roles would command salaries of £45,000 to £65,000 depending on size of department and years experience.