Next Retail LtdNext Retail Ltd
You know Next, but did you know we’re a FTSE-100 retail company employing over 40,000 people across the UK and Eire. We’re the UK’s 2nd largest Fashion and Homeware retailer, largest Retailer online in Europe and for Kidswear we’re the market leader. At the last count we have over 500 stores in the UK & EIRE, plus with the Next Directory it’s now possible to buy online from over 70 countries around the world! So we’ve gone global!
- Name: Holly Dumble
- Role: Assistant Merchandiser – Menswear – Soft Accessories
- University: University of Westminster
- Degree: Fashion Merchandise Management
In my last few months of university I began to look for a graduate job. After completing a four year degree in Fashion Merchandise Management I was sure this was the area which I wanted to go into, however I was unsure of where. I researched into different companies to see how entry level merchandising jobs varied. Next stood out to me as it was role which involved more than just ‘number crunching’ where you are allowed to work closely with product in order to bring new trends to the high street. Choosing Next for me meant relocating to Leicester, something which I wasn’t sure of at first. However due to the fact that there a lot of trainees often starting at similar times I found it easy to meet people and settled in quickly.
Although I have a degree which is merchandising based it is not crucial to the role as there is training provided which helps to introduce you to the role and what Merchandising is. These training courses are for all trainees and introduce you to the systems which you will use. These courses provide you with a great way to meet people in the same boat as you and share your experiences within the first few weeks in the job.
Day to day life as a trainee includes a wide range of tasks. Initially there is a lot of information to take in, however this all gives you a good understanding of what the job entails and will provide the foundations for your career. The tasks which you do as a trainee focus on managing stock, from initial orders to getting stock out to store, therefore you are crucial to ensuring a great range is available in store for the customer. As you get to work closely with a Buying and Design team there are also lots of opportunities to get involved in product development. You are able to get involved in putting together a range and giving your opinion on potential new products. Therefore when you see the ranges out in store you can know that you had a role in getting this product in to store. Once the product is in store it is your job as a merchandiser to be able to identify best sellers and to be able to react to this. This means you need to be analytical and able to read into information to identify the relevant and important information. Once you have identified the best seller you need to be able to decide what to do with this information – therefore by being a good problem solver and looking at all potential solutions you are able to make the best decision for the team.
As a trainee you have to balance a lot of different tasks at one time, therefore you needed to make sure you’re really organised. Being organised is key to being able to manage your time effectively to get all of your day to day tasks done. By being organised and ensuring I got all of my daily tasks completed on time I found I was left with time to get involved with what my assistant merchandiser was doing. This allowed me to develop new skills and build on my understanding of merchandising. It also gave me a better overview of how the team worked as a whole and what I would be doing once I had completed the trainee scheme. Although merchandising does require good numerical ability there are systems at place in Next which do make this easier. However as well as being numerical to be successful as a trainee you also need to be able to identify fashion trends. Therefore an interest in clothing and retail definitely helped me to be successful as a trainee.
From my own experience I would say the key to being successful as a trainee merchandiser is being motivated. You have to be willing to push yourself to learn about all aspects of the job and the department in order to further your knowledge. By doing this you will be able to be pro-active and go above what is required. As a trainee you are provided with a guide which includes milestones which you can measure yourself against in order to see how you are progressing. I found this a great way to stay motivated and ensure I was progressing as expected.
The best thing about being a trainee at Next is seeing people wearing products which you have helped to develop and get into store. Next is a high street brand that everyone knows, therefore you get a real sense of pride at working here. With over 500 stores across the country plus the Next Directory and online store you are always likely to see your product when you’re out and about.
- Name: Shaun Foster
- Role: Assistant Merchandiser on Baby Girls Wovens (Jackets, Jeans, Skirts & Shorts)
- University: Sheffield Hallam
- Degree: Business Management
I began working for Next as a Trainee Merchandiser in February 2013. After first discovering the role of ‘Trainee Merchandiser’ on next.co.uk, I dismissed the idea initially as I presumed it was for visual merchandising! Having taken a closer look I realised it wasn’t and I was interested (not that there is anything wrong with Visual Merchandising ?). I had always been half decent with numbers and had a keen eye for fashion!
My previous retail experience benefited me in my application and upon joining the company. There were situations I could reference throughout the application process from initially applying online to the one-on-one interview and assessment centre. Having begun the job one of the focuses of Merchandising is monitoring stock levels in store and I could relate to that having seen firsthand the effect it has in stores.
Also, another advantage of working for the company before was knowing how well Next look after their employees. There is the 25% staff discount on clothing and Homeware, an excellent share save scheme and a very generous annual bonus correlating with the company performance.
The roles that a Merchandiser undertakes are varied as there are so many facets to the job. When describing the role to Undergrads at Careers fairs I tell them it involves juggling four seasons in three stages at once.
- Analysing sales in the current season. If they are best sellers – try and buy more. If they are poor sellers – why are they not selling & try to cancel out of any outstanding deliveries.
- Managing your supply chain for deliveries for the upcoming season
- Planning the range for the following season by analysing the season that you have just come out of!
This is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what Merchandising involves. It is important to be very organised or you won’t be able to stay in control of the workload. It is very fast paced and hard work but extremely satisfying!
When I first joined the team at Head office, Next really looked after me. There is a house that the company own that you can stay after you join to help you settle into your new surroundings. The house is rent free and is managed by two friendly housekeepers. This means that for the first month or so you literally can focus solely on the job, settling in with your team and meeting other trainees. Your training itself will feature a lot of “on-the-job” training but also classroom style training not too dissimilar from seminars at University.
Within the first few months of you joining Next you will have a “Training week” held by a team of trainers to focus on your development. You will participate in this week with other new-starters comprising mostly of other trainees. I found this week a great way to get to know other people that were in the same shoes as me. Next is quite unique in the industry to have such a training format and it was hugely beneficial in my development.
Training & Profiles
Working for a multi-channel global retailer, you will need to develop the talents you already have to deal with a fast paced, ever changing retail landscape.
As part of your development, you will receive structured training, covering business skills, system skills and interpersonal skills that will build your knowledge and confidence. Our systems courses will demonstrate how our in house systems collate data quickly, giving you more time to make decisions, trade your range and react.
We will support you in understanding your role and how you can add value to your team in terms of day to day operation, trading your product and influencing the future direction of your range. Understanding the team around you continues to be a theme in a range of sessions which includes our six day programme specifically designed for trainee Merchandisers and Buyers.
Not only will these sessions give you confidence as you develop your role but as the trainers all used to be members of the product team, they are well placed to understand the challenges and responsibilities you will face.
Please refer to our website.
Graduate Programmer at Next Retail Ltd
I had two face to face interviews. The first one was 40 minutes and was just a case of talking through my CV and talking about my current job and university degree, I was presented a selection of questions based around my personality and how I would
Please refer to our website. for more information regarding FAQs.