Candidates must have multichannel skills to serve the needs of modern employers, according to George at Asda’s senior design director Helen Low and senior merchandise director for menswear and kidswear Jo Nicholls.
At Drapers Next Generation event today, Nicholls said: “Merchandisers of the future will need digital skills. I am actively going out there and seeking out people with those skills, because we need people with different skill sets.”
Low agreed: “It has affected the way we operate. We can’t tell consumers what the catwalk trends are now, because they have already seen them [on the internet].
“I find the youngest members of our team are the best ones at telling me what is happening right now,” she said, referencing the proliferation of social media channels.
They also agreed that to progress, varied experience and flexibility to move around the business are desired. “There are people that specialise, but if you want to get to the level that Jo and I are at, then it is good to have broader experience of more areas,” explained Low.
In addition to digital skills, Nicholls said that contrary to what applicants might expect, merchandisers need to be creative. “I do look for numeracy. They don’t need to have a first class degree in maths from Cambridge, but they need to be good with figures. But they also need to be creative and have an appreciation of product.”
Nicholls and Low, who oversee a team of 80 and 70 respectively, said that with collections lasting a maximum of six weeks in stores, working at speed is also critical.