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How to be an Own label assistant buyer for a department store

Advice from Ed Fella, Head of buying and merchandising at Freedom Recruitment

Succeeding as an assistant buyer is highly competitive, yet highly rewarding. Most people will study fashion textiles or a product-related degree. However, creative subjects such as retail marketing or fashion promotions often give you the platform to begin your buying career.

Internships/work placements are paramount as experience and exposure to the role, industry and contacts are what count. Following a work placement, many retailers will keep the door open for you to rejoin their business upon graduation.

Once in the industry and operating at assistant buyer level, you will gain key skills to enable you to develop your strengths as a buyer. These include sound negotiation abilities and strong overall commercial awareness. Being exposed to new trends and up-and-coming designers is crucial as often the focus is on the translation of catwalk themes into a high street offering.

As a more established assistant buyer, you will take ownership of your own specific product area. You will manage the critical path, collaborating with suppliers and other core product teams to ensure that a commercial and balanced range is built and delivered. Salaries range from £21,000 to £30,000.

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