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Sara Metcalfe

Design and visual merchandising manager, Schuh

What does your job involve?

I’m responsible for the look and feel of [footwear chain] Schuh’s shops from the store design to the visual merchandising and the development and delivery of the seasonal marketing campaigns and window displays.

What skills do you need?

Creativity, good planning and organisational skills, and the ability to work well under pressure to meet strict deadlines. The unexpected often happens, so I must react quickly with good problem-solving skills.

What do you like and dislike about your job?

Every day is different, but the long hours and travelling can sometimes be tiring. However, if I spend more than a week in the office I get stir-crazy and crave getting out into other retailers to keep up to date with things.

How did you get to where you are today?

I studied for a BSc in Applied Science at university, but was always interested in fashion, and designed and sold clothes in my spare time. After I graduated I worked first as a pattern cutter, then in design and production management for a recycled clothing manufacturer in Dublin. Unfortunately, I was made redundant in 1997 which led me to a job in Schuh at its first shop in Ireland. Schuh has a great policy of internal promotion and recognising and rewarding talent. I was given the opportunity to move to the head office to take up a visual merchandising role, which has grown to incorporate store design and management of the seasonal campaigns. Much blood, sweat and tears has also been involved along the way.

What is your proudest career achievement to date?

I was responsible for developing a new store design from concept to delivery, which despite appealing to Schuh’s core customer, has introduced a new audience to our offer. The first project was delivered in 2005 and this was further developed into the current twentyTEN concept that resulted in significant sales growth and increased footfall in refitted stores. The current interior is more contemporary and aspirational, attracting a wider customer base and showing off the product in a less industrial and more attractive way.

What is your ambition?

To continue to develop and build Schuh’s brand image and identity to become a retailer that others admire and aspire to. As we enter a stage of rapid expansion, we must stay ahead of the game and remain relevant.

How do you intend to get there?

I need to build and develop a strong team to deliver consistently across all visual areas of the business, while constantly striving to improve on our store design and visual campaigns in a cohesive manner that can be incorporated across all areas of the business as we become a totally multichannel retailer.

What three words sum you up?

Creative, passionate, loyal.

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

Be prepared to work long and unsociable hours, and don’t take things personally. There aren’t necessarily right and wrong answers or solutions in the visual field and everyone is entitled to their own opinion, which may not necessarily match your own. 

CV

2004 Design and visual merchandising manager, Schuh

2001  Visual mechandising manager, Schuh

1998  Store manager, Schuh

1997  Trainee manager, Schuh

1995  Designer and production manager, Gandalf

1994  Pattern cutter, Scrap Scrap

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