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Russell Jeffrey Ayles

Team leader, buying and merchandising, Fashion Personnel

The first thing you need is some retail experience. Shopfloor experience is great as it gives you exposure to the customer and retail generally. You should look to obtain a fashion-related degree - one with a retail head office

placement is advantageous. Many retailers run graduate programmes and there is normally high demand for these. If you can get a place on one, it could fast-track your buying career.

You need to learn as much as you can about the product you are buying, and think about the target customer you are selling to. Keep on top of the fashion industry, follow blogs and read fashion magazines. You need to be strategic, commercial, well organised and creative. Numerical and analytical skills are also a must.

It can be different buying for an online retailer without stores. The principles are similar, as it is like just buying for one (very large) store. However, the position is much more reactive, with instant sales results rather than weekly reports.

Financially, buying can be very rewarding. Salaries start from £16,000 for a buyer’s administrative assistant, rising up to six figures in some companies for a head of buying or buying director.

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