Young fashion brand Bench’s head of retail on his career highlights and following his father’s advice.
What does your diary look like today?
This morning I have a couple of personal development meetings with members of my team. Midday I’m meeting with the chief executive to present future strategy and then I’m heading over to a store to sign off menswear visual merchandising.
What meeting are you most looking forward to today?
Definitely the personal development meetings. Bench has put an emphasis on objectives and development. It’s really paid off in the past six months with the retail business results and it’s great to see people growing in their roles.
What task do you wish you could postpone?
They’re all important but probably the visual merchandising sign-off. The business is going through some serious strategic change right now and I have a feeling that the strategy session with the chief executive will run on a little and might put pressure on the sign-off.
How did you get to where you are today?
I fell into retail at an early stage, but loved it from the moment I got started. It’s been a mixture of hard work, dedication and timing. I’ve been lucky to work for and with some great people who’ve taught me about the trade.
I’m also from a retail family, so that’s helped no end.
Who is your mentor?
Throughout my career my father has been my biggest steer. He worked for many retailers [including Selfridges, Debenhams, Jaeger, Mothercare and Boxfresh] in senior roles and has my best interests at heart. And I’d say I’ve managed to find a mentor in all the businesses I’ve worked in. If you’re open to learning then there’s always someone who wants to help.
What was the best piece of advice he ever gave you?
Really early on he made a simple suggestion to always stay balanced, never forget to say thank you and approach work with a ‘how can we do things better’ attitude.
What has been your career highlight?
Winning the Retail Week Rising Star Award in 2006 at 26 years old, followed by the Drapers 30 Under 30 accolade in 2009. It was a great feeling and made me realise that all the hard work was paying off at an early age.
That said, working with the team that turned around [value chain] Select was also fantastic.
How do you see your career progressing?
I’m really enjoying my time at Bench. I joined the brand because it has so much opportunity attached to it. The future is looking good with great like-for-likes. I can’t wait to further develop my understanding of retailing within a brand instead of a vertical retail operation. I think I can add some real retail value here, so we’re building on that foundation. In the future I would love to run a fashion retail business.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to follow in your footsteps?
If you think you’ve got it, go for it. I would also suggest that you think about the people around you. Retailers can’t function without good people and you will only ever be as successful as the people you work with.
- Salaries for this position range from £85,000 to £95,000, plus benefits (estimate provided by Freedom Recruitment)
2012 Head of retail, Bench
2009 Head of retail operations, Select
2008 Area manager/regional director development programme, Blacks Leisure
2003 Regional controller, Moss Bros
2002 Area manager, Officers Club
2000 Store manager, Officers Club
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