Ransoms, rickshaws and recognition…

MAY 2018 Fresh out of an amazing double win at the Brand and Lifestyle Licensing Awards (B&LLA’s) in April, we are head down in preparation for our next round of overseas supplier visits. The win was for our innovative collaboration with The Military Wives Choirs, in producing a range of home and fashion accessories to help fund the charity in its endeavours to support the families of our military personnel, and the way in which we executed the delivery of this range in store

Eat, sleep, work, repeat……..

Arriving in the murky, wet greyness of a hot and steamy Sunday evening in Dhaka, my senses are as usual, assaulted by the sights, sounds and smells of a very different culture from the London I left behind. Having negotiated our way through immigration, and collected our luggage in a surprisingly organised and speedy fashion, we step out into the cacophony of sound that is thousands of people, traffic and constantly beeping horns. The sheer volume of people everywhere I look

Creating awareness………

The past few weeks have seen a great many changes, and some real ups and downs, from the excitement of appearing in the Sunday Times Top 100 Companies, to significant changes in senior management and a rollercoaster of emotion, a trip to Turkey to see some existing suppliers and some potential new ones, a few days in New York looking for SS16 inspiration, whilst my team scattered far and wide, scouring London, Copenhagen, Paris, and Antwerp for the latest ideas which we can i

New experiences!

Well, that was one hell of a trip! It started with an early morning departure from Heathrow, travelling with three of my colleagues, first destination Bangalore, India, where none of them had ever been before. This was going to be something of a baptism of fire – India is always a bit of a culture shock to the uninitiated, and we needed to hit the ground running! Having spent all day travelling, via a short stop in Dubai, suddenly it was the next morning (courtesy of a five a

Time out!

What I really needed was some time out to recharge my very lacklustre batteries, so a few days off in the run up to Easter was a very welcome antidote to the trials of the last few weeks! Why is it that just when you think you’ve got it all worked out, a series of thunderbolts come along that turn everything upside down? Anyway, enough of my complaining – I am usually pretty resilient, so no doubt we will make it through to the other side. In the meantime I have distracted my

A difficult summer………..

It’s been a while since my last post (this sounds like I am about to confess my sins, which I am not!), and a great deal has happened over the last few months, not all of it easy to write about. My year to date has been overshadowed by the illness of my father, who subsequently passed away in July, leaving me feeling bereft and unable to put pen to paper until now. The death of a parent, for those who have not yet experienced it, can have a profound effect on your outlook on

Feeling hot, hot, hot………….

Arriving in Delhi in the early hours of Wednesday morning, we bunch of weary travellers were greeted by the stifling heat and a missing bag! Cue lots of arm waving and pigeon English as we tried to locate said bag – it had exploded out of its zip in transit and been transformed in a disguise of Emirates plastic wrapping. Bag located, we made our way out to the waiting cars to be transported to………….paradise! Never, in all my years of buying trips, have I stayed in a hotel quit

Standing out from the crowd……….

As is always the case in a modern buying environment, it has been a very busy few weeks, and our ever changing business has presented numerous seemingly unsolvable problems. Every problem usually has a solution, but it does not always immediately present itself, and often requires plenty of discussion to find the best possible answer, which will drive out the greatest sales and profit. We are just building up to the start of a new seasons development, designers are franticall

Wacky races, camels and kebabs……….

Leaving home on Sunday afternoon, I had a very odd feeling that this was going to be an eventful trip; if only I’d known just how eventful! It was destined to be a very busy few days! Having made it through security at Heathrow in record time, the five of us from the kids wear team met for a sandwich and a little therapeutic shopping, before boarding our flight to Istanbul. The flight itself was busy but uneventful, but I have to ask, why are British Airways stewardesses alwa

Full speed ahead………

Well, the Christmas and New Year Holiday feels a very long time ago and the first few weeks of the year have been non stop; a continuous round of sign offs and planning meetings, supplier visits, ongoing product development for next A/W13 and, latterly, beginning to look at initial thoughts for SS14. In the midst of all this we have been looking at the potential to drive training and development opportunities for individuals within the business. The question is; should we sin

As 2012 draws to a close…….

2012 has been a year of new experiences, some amazing highs and one or two lows, and a very steep learning curve! I feel as if I have been travelling relentlessly, and am on constant information overload, but I really wouldn’t have it any other way. The rush towards the end of the year has been a whirlwind of meetings, Christmas events and parties, with the occasional leaving do thrown in, and a very special trip to New York with my daughter. It started with a quick fire roun

No rest for the wicked (or in this case, a busy buying team)……..

We had just over a week to recover from the exertions of Bangladesh, and then we were off again, this time further afield, to Hong Kong, and then on to either Indonesia or Sri Lanka. Under normal circumstances I would have tried to squeeze all this into one trip, but the thought of being away for almost a full three weeks without a break was too much, even for me. Leaving home on a Sunday evening, for a 12 hour direct flight to Hong Kong, I was again realising that I seem to

Diary of a Bangladesh buying trip…….

Leaving home at 5.30am on Sunday morning, to meet the buyer and designer travelling with me at the airport, I was clear in the knowledge that this was going to be a long and tiring week. What I hadn’t really taken into consideration was how many laughs we would have along the way! It’s this that keeps you going on one of these trips, when the lack of sleep, the long days, occasional bouts of Dhaka belly, and the endless hours spent in the car feel like they might tip you over

Both a buying dilemma, and a more personal one……….

So, this week has seen us going through SS13 phase 3 (essentially our high summer) meetings in preparation for sign off, as well as reviewing our spring bookings to date to ensue that we have the right mix of product at the right prices, coming in at the right time. We have committed to buying ranges which fit the “buy now, wear now” strategy, but actually putting this into practice is not as easy as it should be! The weather is playing a major part in this – it’s becoming in

A very bumpy ride…….

Yet again, just when we think we’re making great strides forward, catastrophe strikes! This time in the form of a key supplier who has suddenly decided that they are not going to make garments any more (it’s too complicated and simply weaving the fabric and selling it on to other manufacturers is considerably easier to manage!) and we have several large orders due out of this particular factory over the next few weeks. Cue a great deal of heated debate about what they will an

Shopping and celebrations…..it’s not a bad life!

So, it’s my favourite time in the buying calendar, the beginning of a new seasons’ development, and our designers are busy being super creative, pulling together colour palettes and story boards for AW13, whilst the buying teams are frantically pulling together samples and negotiating prices on the final phase of SS13, in preparation for sign off presentations. We’ve been out shopping for inspiration all over London this week, from the boutiques and markets of Portobello, to

Never a dull moment…..

Trade is tough out there, but there is definitely a growing feeling of optimism – the weather finally appears to be improving, which will help us clear the remainder of our spring stock, and we are seeing some very exciting results on new AW12 lines. Personally, I am exhausted, and I imagine the rest of my team feel the same! It has been a very long and difficult spring season, with a few key team members missing, and trading through it has meant we have all been very busy, w

Buying British

We’ve been in Leicester this week, visiting some of our UK suppliers, and, having spent much of my career buying in Turkey, Eastern Europe and the Far East, it has been a real eye opener! Within the space of a few square miles around this small city is a thriving garment manufacturing industry, largely supplied by local fabric suppliers and converters. I had no idea that we were actually still knitting, dyeing, finishing and printing so much fabric here in the UK. We met with