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Francesca Herman

Head of Merchandising, Surfdome.

What does your job involve?

I manage the buying and merchandising team at boardsports-inspired lifestyle etailer Surfdome, which involves setting budgets with the managing director, negotiating terms with suppliers and developing new systems and processes. My main objective is to select the right product for a high sell-through.

What skills do you need?

Some of the most important skills are to be dynamic and innovative in dealing with constant expansion. You also need to be analytical, have strong IT skills and commercial acumen, and be organised. It is vital to get the best out of your team, which requires good communication and people-management skills.

What do you like and dislike about your job?

The best thing about working for a fast-paced online retailer is how quickly you can make changes and see the results almost instantly. I also like that my role is so varied but I do sometimes wish I could freeze time to get more done.

How did you get to where you are today?

After completing my A-levels I spent two years working for a women’s tailoring wholesaler.

I used to visit buyers and merchandisers and realised I would prefer to work in retail. I then did a fashion management degree at London College of Fashion in the evenings while working full time. I’ve since learnt a lot of different skills from working at a variety of businesses, including Space NK, Dorothy Perkins and John Lewis. I was looking for a new challenge and after hearing about Surfdome through a personal contact I met up with Justin [Stone], the managing director. I think the most important elements of getting to where I am today have been hard work and determination.

What is your proudest career achievement to date?

It was actually setting up my own business - a beach bar in Croatia in 2005.

It involved buying land in Croatia, building a bar and running it for two summers. I learnt more business skills than would have been possible from working in a buying and merchandising office. We created a successful brand and now rent out the bar during the summers.

What is your ambition?

To continue to develop Surfdome as a brand that is synonymous with lifestyle and fashion without losing its roots. Part of this development is expanding into new global markets.

How do you intend to get there?

We’ll get there through careful strategic planning and communication, and ensuring we have people with the right skills in the right positions and the systems and processes to deliver our strategic objectives.

What three words sum you up?

Ambitious, innovative and dynamic.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to follow in your footsteps?

Always learn something in the role you are doing. It is important to manage your own development and build time into your schedule to develop your own skills. Don’t be afraid to move to another company if you are finding that your progression has come to a halt.



2009 Head of merchandising, Surfdome
2007 Beauty merchandising manager, John Lewis
2006 Beauty project manager, John Lewis
2005 Merchandising consultant, Space NK; set up Bura Beach Bar in Croatia
2004 Assistant merchandiser, Dorothy Perkins
2004 Junior merchandiser, Space NK
1999 BA Hons Business of Fashion Management, London College of Fashion

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