Charmain Gyles-Ferguson, senior recruitment consultant - Retail & Fashion Division – at Handle Recruitment, on how to be an area manager at a high street womenswear chain.
Although some brands have fast-track store-management programmes, the route to area manager (AM) is largely vocational and experience based. Consequently, potential AMs need to prove themselves by efficiently managing a large stand-alone store. They may then be offered a multi-site management role with two or three stand-alone stores or concessions before being offered the opportunity to manage an area – perhaps within a city or region. This will take a minimum of five years and progression may take longer in larger well-established businesses with highly structured talent pipelines.
Area Managers need a real understanding of their brand’s KPIs and must be target driven with solid analytical skills as they will have to effectively manage profit and loss and people performance. Interpersonal skills are key as success heavily depends on the ability to influence everyone from sales assistants through to directors.
This is not a 9am to 5pm job and no two days are alike. Responsibilities include managing sales, HR issues and products - while keeping a close eye on achieving targets. Those who manage concessions have to work closely with the host store to negotiate on space, rent and staff.
Progression is generally to regional manager with the possibility of becoming head of retail operations. A sideways move into department store management with responsibility for multiple floors is also a possibility.
Typical salaries range from £35,000 - £50,000, although this depends on the number of sites and the turnover volume of stores, because an area manager may look after as few as two stores or as many as 20.
Typical salaries range from £35,000 - £50,000, although this depends on the number of sites and the turnover volume of stores. An area manager may look after as few as two stores or as many as 20. Amanager for a high-end high-street retailer such as Coast will earn in the region of £40,000 - £45,000.