A year-long placement got the Blue Inc buyer hooked and working across different categories helped her get ahead.
What does a typical week involve?
The beginning of each week is spent analysing the previous week’s sales and bestsellers. Once the sales reports are in from the stores, I organise
a team meeting with my merchandiser, Anish Chouchan, to identify the best and worst sellers. Then I propose any necessary actions during trade meetings with the buying and merchandising directors, such as changing styling or implementing promotions to push poor sellers.
I’m constantly researching trends and work closely with the merchandising team to ensure we are trading competitively - price negotiations never end. I also spend time working with two buyers’ assistants to support their development. My favourite part of the week is monitoring the daily sales of new styles hitting the Blue Inc stores.
What meeting are you most looking forward to today?
A supplier meeting to review autumn 15 knitwear development. It’s always exciting to see new product for the season ahead. The main objective will be to discuss planned programmes and price negotiations with suppliers for the core knitwear lines, which will cover lightweight jumpers that run throughout the season. I will also be reviewing new trend pieces for the sports and monochrome themes being punted for autumn 15.
What task do you wish you could postpone?
As my role also involves a lot of merchandising, sizing ratios are one task that’s not as exciting as the others. This involves planning quantities for size breakdowns and seasonal phasing.
How did you get to where you are today?
I’ve always been interested in retail and between 2002 and 2003 worked in Marks & Spencer and River Island, alongside school and college, as a sales assistant. I then went to Bournemouth University where I studied Retail Management.
As part of my course I did a year-long buying placement at New Look as a buyer’s admin assistant, assisting the buyer, Amy-Kate Crane,
on ladies’ tall and maternity departments [Crane is co-founder of maternitywear brand Heavenly Bump]. It was there where I got my first taste of for buying.
I continued to work for New Look for five years after my placement. I progressed to assistant buyer in 2010, working on ladies’ casual jersey, before moving to menswear as senior assistant buyer in 2011, working on men’s outerwear.
In 2013 I moved to Primark as senior assistant buyer responsible for formal shirts and assisted on casual shirts, before joining Blue Inc as a junior buyer a year ago. In December, I was made buyer responsible for outerwear, knitwear, formal shirts, tailoring, casual shirts and wool coats. I also get involved in other areas of the business, such as marketing and ecommerce, where I help organise outfit builds for press and lookbooks.
What has been your career highlight?
Last year I was promoted to buyer, which was a huge career highlight for me. One of my goals when I first started six-and-a-half years ago was to reach buyer by the time I was 30. I achieved it by the time I was 29. I’m proud of the experiences I’ve gained and my hard work.
If you could change one thing about your career path, what would it be?
I’ve enjoyed all my jobs, since I first started my career in buying. I worked on tall and maternity, before moving to ladies’ jersey and men’s clothing. It’s great to deliver product for different demographics and also work to different lead times. For example, ladies’ jersey is much more reactive than longer lead time areas such as jackets. This broad background of product categories has enabled me to decide which route to take my career in.
How do you see your career progressing?
I would love to be head of buying in the near future. The role is different as I would be managing a larger team and overseeing the buying for more categories such as denim, shorts, jersey and sweats. I aim to achieve this by taking on more categories to buy, in addition to the six product categories I currently manage.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to follow in your footsteps?
Set yourself goals. Ensure you use the resources around you, work with your line manager to set short-term goals and work hard to achieve them. It’s also beneficial to get work experience within a buying role, so you can gain a better understanding of what the role entails.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
If you want something, work hard for it and never take range criticisms personally. This was given by one of the first assistant buyers I worked with, Meike Hasenbosch [now senior buyer at Australian womenswear retailer Forever New].
If you could work in another area of fashion, what would it be?
As an outerwear designer, because I love being at the forefront of fashion and this is my favourite product category. Although outerwear doesn’t change often from season to season, there is a lot of complexity in the construction and details of the design.
Who in the industry do you aspire to emulate?
Shellie House, senior buyer at New Look, was the first line manager I ever had who inspired me to continue my career in buying. She has over 20 years’ experience with suppliers and buying. Under her management I was quickly involved in European development trips, range building, price negotiations and I learned how factory processes work.
- Salaries for this position range from £35,000 to £45,000 (estimate by Success Appointments)
2014 Buyer, Blue Inc
2013 Junior buyer, Blue Inc
2013 Senior assistant buyer, Primark
2011 Senior assistant buyer, New Look
2010 Assistant buyer, New Look
2008 Buyers admin assistant, New Look
2008 Undergraduate diploma in Retail Management, Bournemouth University
2005 Foundation Art & Design degree, Basingstoke College of Technology