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Drapers Next Gen: Move around to get experience, says JD Williams buyer

Breadth of experience is key to a long and successful career in retail, according to Linda Quinn, ladieswear and design director for JD Williams.

Linda Quinn

Speaking at the Drapers Next Generation event in London on April 16, Quinn said: “You need to move around a bit. I look back now and wish I’d done more of that, particularly in bricks and mortar retail. It would have been a different experience, a different way of looking at things.”

Quinn was promoted to her new role from womenswear buying director a few weeks ago and now oversees womenswear, women’s footwear and lingerie.

She is helping to drive forward changes to the plus-size and over-50s womenswear brand, which is the biggest in N Brown’s stable.

“We’re broadening our appeal and trying to attract a new audience to grow,” she explained. “Our customers are changing and we’re bringing new ones in.”

As part of that process, JD Williams is introducing more phased drops. “Traditionally 90% of our spring products landed in January, but that didn’t match up to how people were shopping – we’re moving it later.”

She continued: “Buying is going to get faster; the customer is so demanding now. We’re looking at how we can speed up in terms of our processes, but also the supply base – sourcing closer to home – and how quickly we can get things photographed and online.”

She said the key skills she looks for in new recruits are “people who understand the internet, social media and how people shop now”, adding that they should be well dressed and able to demonstrate “a flair for product”.

Other attributes include being able to meet deadlines, having good interpersonal skills and, to an extent, being able to understand and work with numbers.

Her last piece of advice was to “put yourself forward”. “Volunteer to do things, be enthusiastic and passionate about what you do and demonstrate skill. Work hard and you could be promoted from within.”

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