Value retailer Select is looking to significantly increase its buying, design and merchandising headcount, as it focuses on more cohesive ranges and co-ordinated product.
Select, which last month took on Chanda Pandya, former head of buying at Jane Norman, as buying and design director, is to increase its buying, merchandising and design staff from 28 to 40.
The enlarged team will focus on creating more cohesive regular ranges as well as outfit building, giving the Select customer “a wardrobe” and “proper look and outfit”, according to Pandya.
“It’s about much more focused buying so we become a one-stop shop, improving co-ordination, timing and intake, making sure we have the right product at the right time at the right price, managing short and long lead times properly,” she explained.
“It needs to look like one vision and one thought behind the range, yet we have to offer something to fulfil the needs of all customers, whether it’s just a layering piece or if they’re looking for a new going-out dress, a top to take them from day to evening, or a cosy piece of knitwear.”
The 329-store retailer is also working on improving communication between its buyers, merchandisers and designers to help spot opportunities between departments and categories. Pandya has allocated a dedicated buyer to accessories for the first time, as part of plans to develop the category.
“There needs to be communication and regular feedback and updates,” she said. “It’s about making sure that if there’s a print working well on a blouse, that we can use that on a scarf or as a trimming on a bag. It’s about using the information and sharing it as a team.”
Pandya said that while high street retailers such as New Look have been shedding design staff, the optimum team for a value-driven retailer is to have a balance between the design and buying functions. Being too design-led could mean inflexibility in reacting commercially to trends, while not enough design input could lead to a lack of uniqueness and direction.
According to Pandya: “What works best on the high street is getting a balance – unique looks but a commerciality when you’re doing volume. We’re trying to achieve exactly that. We need designers to deal on the technical drawings and relay that sort of information to our factories. The buyer knows the best and worst sellers and costs.”