Debenhams’ womenswear trading director Sara Bradley tells Drapers about her inspirations, motivations, and her plans for the department store’s womenswear offer.
Sara Bradley joined Debenhams as womenswear trading director in November 2017, overseeing the department store’s mission to revitalise its womenswear offer. Formerly head of buying at Marks & Spencer, clothing director at Sainsbury’s, and buying director for BHS and Arcadia, Bradley brings a wealth of experience to Debenhams. She talks to Drapers about how Debenhams is approaching and shifting its womenswear offer.
What’s your background?
I wanted to be a buyer from an early age and after graduating from the London College of Fashion in I started as a buyer’s admin, and worked my way up through the buying ranks.
What is your focus at Debenhams?
Ensuring we develop and deliver great product for our customer.
Tell us a little about Debenhams Redesigned
The Debenhams Redesigned strategy states our mission to make shopping confidence-boosting, sociable and fun. We are delivering a plan that will make our stores more of a destination with a great beauty and beauty services offer, food and experiences as well as our showing our strength in accessories. Fashion has a strong part to play with the creation of brands that are unique alongside a revitalised Designers at Debenhams offer.
What are some of the changes you are making to the own-brand offer?
We are focusing more on the clarity of the offer and ensuring brands are distinct and offer real choice. We’re also modernising and introducing more newness throughout the chain. We want to ensure we offer quality and value at every price point.
What sets Debenhams’ womenswear offer apart?
The fact that we can be a one-stop shop for the customer with our unique blend of own brand, designer collaborations and external brands.
What are some of the biggest challenges you face on a day-to-day basis?
Keeping up with media content and the pace of change in the retail environment.
How do you keep yourself motivated and inspired?
I’ve always been self-driven, but I also have a real passion for what I do.
Is there anyone in the industry you particularly admire?
I’ve worked with some amazing people in this business, but I’d have to say those I most admire are the women I have worked with – [former Whistles chief executive] Jane Shepherdson and [owner of Angel & Rocket and KB Fashion Consultancy] Kate Bostock.
What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve ever received?
Focus on the things that will make the biggest difference.
What is one piece of advice you would give your younger self?
Be confident, positive and determined, and persevere.
Favourite clothing brand
I’m a fashion magpie so I’d struggle to pick just one, but right now I love Ulla Johnson
Favourite places to shop
London – from department stores to boutiques and pop-ups, it’s an amazing city to shop in that’s constantly evolving and inspiring
Last fashion purchase
A Studio by Preen skirt – its Designers at Debenhams spring 18 collection is really strong (main picture)
Jamaica with the family
Last book you read
When China Rules the World by Martin Jacques
Last film you watched
I’d love to say it was the latest great movie, but honestly it was How to Train Your Dragon – my daughter is studying the book at school so it was a must-see
I’d love to have my own brand and a small chain of boutiques selling only beautiful things
What would we find you doing at the weekend
Spending time with my family and friends