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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 single out particular candidates who demonstrate the highest levels of self motivation and focus on giving them a greater level of specialist training and coaching, or does everyone deserve the same level of opportunity? Clearly there will be some who are less focussed on career progression, and others who expect it to be handed to them on a plate, but for those who show commitment, dedication, passion and a drive to succeed, shouldn’t they all get the opportunity to shine? It is my firm belief that not all those capable of high levels of achievement are necessarily the most obvious choices in the early stages of their career, and many talented individuals will move onto other businesses before we have realised their potential. I am firmly in the camp that believes all our dedicated, talented, committed and passionate team members deserve the opportunity to progress through the ranks, regardless of whether they appear to be the busiest, or shout the loudest. These are the potential buyers, merchandisers, designers and technologists of the future, and it is imperative that we give them all the training and development they need, not only to maintain a successful business, but to enable them to negotiate their way through the minefield that is a buying and merchandising department for the retail industry.

So….that’s me off my soapbox now!

Talking of soapboxes, I challenged myself to do something new and different this week, joining a panel of speakers at Pure, one of the UK’s largest fashion trade shows. As the day drew closer I found myself feeling pretty nervous, although I think my experience as a lecturer at the Retail Academy helped to put it into perspective; the audience at Pure were far less rowdy and significantly less challenging than most of my students! Once I was up there sitting on a tall stool with a microphone in my hand (not unlike a performance by Westlife, one of my colleagues commented!), it was not nearly as nerve wracking as I had expected, and I found that I began to enjoy it – the audience response was great and I was inundated with questions from interested audience members at the end. It is definitely something I will do again in the future.

This week we are heading into the final round of long lead time AW13 sign offs for the majority of my departments, and its looking like its going to be a long week, so I have taken a long weekend to recharge my batteries before launching myself into boys and menswear on Tuesday, dinner with some of our area managers on Tuesday evening, a day instore with the visual merchandising teams and directors on Wednesday, babywear and girlswear on Thursday, Kylie teen department on Friday, and somewhere along the line we need to try and fit in kids accessories and homeware too! Add to that a couple of supplier meetings and clearly, there are not enough hours in the day, any day!!!

Following all of that, I’ll be heading out to Istanbul on our next buying trip with girlswear and Kylie, after which we’ll all be shopping the world for inspiration for SS14 – the design team are already underway with pulling together trends and colour palettes; roll on next season! In the meantime we’ll be trading our way through SS13, and chasing our way through critical paths to ensure our deliveries come in on time for AW13; I know I’ve said it before, but there really is never a dull moment!

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