How to become a Retail Fashion Buyer

One of the questions we are presented with time after time is ‘How do I become a Fashion Buyer’. It is an area of immense competition and quality candidates are highly sought. However, it is not something you can walk into. Candidates require a specific skill set, retail experience and an obvious talent and desire to source. We hope to steer prospective candidates in the right direction by compiling this and many more snippets of advice within Fashion Buying. (Our Video is available to view here after you read this informative piece!). We are specialists in this field and on a weekly occurrence, place Fashion Buyers is the best International Retailers. All Retail Buyer jobs can be viewed here.

Buyers are responsible for creating an exciting and timely product assortment that meets and/or exceeds sales and profits for the company. Their role is to execute the company’s strategy while remaining customer focused. They intuitively respond to customers, market trends and develop action plans that drive category specific growth and profitability and are ultimately responsible for the success of their department.

There are two types of Buying. The first type is Selection Buying. This means you select styles and ranges from brands e.g. Nike, Levi’s etc. for your store. You will base what you buy on historical sales information such as what colours, styles etc are right for your customer, trend and also information from the brand itself (they can advise you on what their other customers are buying into for the season. This is how businesses like Brown Thomas and Arnotts for example operate.

The other type of Buying is Development. This is when buyers develop product pretty much from scratch based on past sales performance, trend information and strategy with suppliers/factories who are generally based in the places such as Turkey, Hong Kong, China, Bangladesh and India to name just a few.

The product/samples that are developed are then used in the company’s own/private label ranges e.g. Savida at Dunnes Stores, Atmosphere at Penneys. Sometimes you have a designer from your company with you, sometimes not so you need to be very creative and commercial. You really need to know your sales inside out, be really customer focused (what would they like to buy?) and be a good negotiator in order to get the best cost prices, deliveries, terms that you can. High volume textile retailers such as Penneys, Dunnes Stores and Heatons work like this.

Most retailers use both types of buying to offer their customers choice and value. To do either type though you need to be passionate about product, have a creative yet commercial aptitude, be business minded but most importantly you need to have a good eye and possess the innate ability to identify a ‘winner’.

Buyer’s skill-set

  • Be customer focused and have the ability to identify the appropriate product/trend that will appeal to the customer and ultimately drive sales
  • Have the ability to develop and build desirable and commercial ranges
  • Be able to work in a fast-paced, pressurised environment constantly juggling tasks and being able to prioritise accordingly, for the immediate and long term needs of the business
  • The ability to work and communicate with a broad mix of people from different functions in a business and understand how they contribute to the bigger picture e.g. Marketing, P.R., Quality Assurance, Online etc.
  • Being numerical and having the ability to analyse sales reports, the overall market (your direct competitors) and trends to reach commercially sound decisions which drive the business forward
  • Having a really good eye for detail – this is really important as, for example, even a button, the wrong level of red, fabric type etc can put a customer off and can lose sales
  • Possessing strong leadership skills and have an ability to delegate accordingly
  • Managing suppliers and constantly evaluating them to ensure you are getting the best terms and return for the business from each

As a recruiter, the type of people we put forward for trainee buying roles ideally would have the following key things on their CV-

  • A Fashion buying & merchandising course – there are a lot of these available so shop around. Some are affiliated with the major retailers so it can be a good way to gain an internship and perhaps a job. Do your research and explore which is the best one for you. Try and speak to ex-students if you can and see what they are up to post course
  • Retail experience (even if part time during school or college)
  • Office experience – this can show your IT skills, using internal systems, proficiency using Microsoft Office programs – Excel in particular etc.

As fashion buying is such a competitive area and roles at trainee level don’t come up very frequently, I would recommend that candidates who don’t hold these requirements apply directly to retailers that they would like to work for to try and gain experience that way.

This blog was written by Clare and Sarah, in Excel Recruitment.

NAMA consider two International bids for Dundrum Town Centre

Project Jewel, suitable named, is a portfolio of loans that include the most prized Retail assets in Ireland. Dundrum Town Centre, Pavilons Swords and the Ilac Shopping Centre are amongst the loans. Over the past week, The National Asset Management Agency has weighed up bids from two groups of International investors.

Both investors are waiting to hear from NAMA who the preferred bidder for the portfolio is. Project Jewel is expected to trade for approx. €1.6 million. The new owner will likely work with Joe O’Reilly and his company Chartered Land to manage and develop the assets.

The portfolio sale also includes 50 per cent stakes in both the Ilac and Pavilions shopping centres in Dublin, as well as a substantial site between O’Connell Street and Moore Street.


Aldi to launch music streaming service to rival Spotify

Discount Grocery Retailer Aldi will launch a music streaming service on the German market. Collaborating with Napster, ‘Aldi Life Musik’ will have unlimited access to Napsters extensive music library for €7.99 a month.

The new music service which launches today (September 24th) is a paid only service, with no free option. The service is the first of its kind on the German market and features 34 million songs, ready to go playlists, radio stations and audiobooks. Music streaming revenue in Germany rose by 87% for in the first half of this year, versus last year.

New Cinema and 65 new jobs for Dublin

An Odeon Cinema is set to open in North Dublin next month. Plans for the cinema had been in the pipeline for approx. 3 years. Opening on October 18th, the cinema is located in Charlestown just off the m50 and residing close to Finglas. It will create 65 new jobs and bring the total number of staff employed by the Odeon group to 440 across 11 outlets.

The 9 screen cinema will also house an iScene facility to view picture perfect high definition films on a huge screen. Douglas Breenan who is brand Manager of Odeon Ireland commented “We’re very excited to be a new part of the Finglas community, and are delighted to have 65 new colleagues joining our team.


Greggs is coming to Ireland

A powerhouse throughout the UK, Greggs have announced they will open their first Irish store in The Republic. Most known for their expansive fresh offerings of pastries, sandwiches, sausage rolls, breads and snacks, Greggs will open in a Dublin Applegreen Service Station.

Greggs have more stores in the UK than fast food giant McDonalds, typifying its popularity amongst British consumers. Recently a Greggs opened on the M2 at a service station close to Belfast.


Lloyds pharmacy’s to buy McCauley Chemists

Llyoyds pharmacy, which formerly operated as Doc Morris looks set to buy out the McCauley Chemist group across Ireland. A report by the Sunday Times suggests, Lloyds pharmacy will looks to strengthen their Irish operations by buying 28 stores that McCauley operate nationwide.

Again, according to reports, the takeover is believed to be worth around €40 – €50 million and are in an advanced stage of talks. Lloyds currently have 93 stores across the country and are already the largest pharmacy group in Ireland.


Primark in the USA | 1 Day to go

Primark is one of our favourite Retailers in Excel Recruitment. As well as recruiting for them, we adore the fashion and value for money concepts that spreads through a range of divisions. Their leap towards beauty, with salons in selected stores saw them establish themselves as one of the most innovative and progressive retailers. Their opening in Boston on September 10th will see them make retail history. We trawled through Instagram with the #PrimarkUSA hashtag to bring you the most exciting photos as they prepare to launch. Best of luck from everyone in Excel Recruitment.

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All images found under the #primarkusa hashtag with a total of 368 images.

Instagram Sources: @primark, @lj.preston,, @jaynebibby, @its_justme_j, @diwali2512, @wendug,

Musgrave get the clear for €57 million deal to sell UK division

Irish Retail giant Musgrave have received regulatory clearance to sell its UK operations. It is believed that the deal will be worth around €57 million and will be sold to a rival UK wholesale giant Booker. Musgraves, which is based in Cork operate the Budgens and Londis brands and have close to 1800 across the UK.

Booker is the UK’s biggest cash and carry operator and the deal have been cleared by the Competitions and Market Authority. It will be sold on a cash free and debt free basis. The acquisition is set to be complete in and around September 14th.

Musgrave currently own and operate the Supervalu brand in Ireland. In a statement, Musgraves said ‘’ “Musgrave Group today noted the decision of the UK Competition and Markets Authority to approve the sale of Musgrave GB to Booker Group PLC. Musgrave Group will now move to complete the transaction with Booker.”

Booker commented “We are pleased that the acquisition of Londis and Budgens has been cleared by the CMA. This will help strengthen our support for independent retailers throughout Great Britain.”


Can Cell Phone Operators Retail?

Our Managing Director discusses a recent Retail visit in Dublin City Centre.

Recently, I had to visit a city centre store of our company cell phone provider to pick up a couple of new handsets last week and the visit made me think – Can cell phone retailer’s retail?

Whilst waiting on the paperwork, the sales consultant explained this wait was due to the company’s new slow software, happily showing me the computer screen as it churned slowly. I had no choice to observe what was going on around me. In the 30 minutes there, four different and potential customers came into the shop.

Customer 1– Young Chinese guy looking for a plan that would include value minutes to China. Sales consultant tells him he should use Skype or Whatsapp! Customer leaves bewildered.

Customer 2-Young Girl in her 20’s looking for €20 call credit. Sales consultant tells her that there is a problem with their systems and whilst he can sell it to her, she won’t be able to register it for use! Customer leaves bewildered.

Customer 3– Mature lady in her fifties. Has lost her phone needs to buy a new phone pronto. Sales consultant notes that she doesn’t have the required ID. Customer leaves frustrated.

Customer 4– Female Student. Wants to pick up nice smart phone on prepay. Sales consultant delights on telling her that the one she picked is €500. Why not go bill pay. Student explains that she is a student and has no credit history etc for Bill pay. Consultant shrugs her off and offer no alternative. Customer leaves frustrated.

When I looked at the shop itself I noticed only around 20% of the handsets on display actually worked, the rest were just bland blank glass as smart phones are these days when not turned on. The accessories were not merchandised with the handsets, instead held on wall hooks that were under lock and key at the tills. Shouldn’t you merchandise the accessories by their phones? Don’t all retailers want additional sales? Isn’t there a cracking margin in accessories?

So in conclusion, I don’t think Cell phone operators can retail. Shame really when they have so many shops yet so many disgruntled customers.

Ireland’s Top 100 brands revealed

Produced by Checkout magazine and in association with Nielson, the Checkout Top 100 Brands is an accumulative account of the top brands purchased by Irish consumers. What is encouraging is that three of the top five brands are Irish products and illustrating brand loyalty amongst Irish consumers.

Furthermore, a number of Irish brands have made considerable movement. The likes of Jacobs, Club Soft Drinks, Irish Pride, Pat the Baker, Miwadi and Dairygold have all achieved their highest positions to date.

The collection of the top 100 brands in Ireland is based on branded value sales collected across the Irish grocery sector and thus making it the most accurate reflection of the biggest selling brands across Ireland. Sales performance is measured across 6,500 brands with over 200 product classes compiled in the report.

The biggest mover this year was Carrolls Meats which rose 41 places and currently sits at 72nd place. A total of 24 brands moved an impressive 5 places or more.

Checkout Top 100 Brands 2015

1Coca Cola
2Avonmore Milk
3Brennans Bread
4Cadburys Dairy Milk
14Irish Pride
20Red Bull