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: Sara Lewis
- Role: Assistant Merchandiser - Beauty
- University: Cardiff University
- Degree: International Business Management
After finishing university I looked at various retail graduate schemes. After researching merchandising roles, I saw that Trainee Merchandising or Merchandise Admin Assistants roles varied greatly. I found the Merchandising Trainee Scheme on the Next website and instantly felt it would be a job I would enjoy. What made Next stand out was the training and development you receive, as well as how much responsibility you get compared to most other retailers. Once I applied for the role, the ball moved very quickly and it finished with half-day assessment centre at Head Office (which was a lot less scary than it sounds!). I found out the following working day that I had got the job. I relocated to Leicester, which was daunting at first but I soon felt at home thanks to my team and the other trainees.
A degree in Merchandising is not really necessary to do well as a Trainee Merchandiser, as the training you receive in the first few months really helps you understand the systems and merchandising skills needed. Although my degree in International Business didn’t directly relate to my role, the general skills you learn at University really help you settle in faster. Having Excel, time keeping and admin skills really helps you as a Trainee. My course in International Business helped open my eyes to cultures around the world which has been really helpful because my team and I currently work with suppliers based in China, Hong Kong, Czech Republic, Poland, Turkey as well as the UK.
Every day varies as a Trainee Merchandiser and you need to be able to juggle lots of different tasks at the same time. Managing stock takes up the majority of your time, from placing orders with suppliers, managing deliveries, getting stock to the correct amount of stores, recognising best sellers and getting rebuys placed to fully potentialise sales. Working in a fast moving retail business, sometimes you need to be able to juggle three seasons at once. As a trainee you get to be involved with Product Development really early on, taking part in Range Build meetings to planning future ranges with the buying and design. It’s really exciting to see products in early stages of design becoming best sellers that customers love!
There is a lot to learn when you first start, especially if you haven’t worked in retail before, therefore you need to have motivation to work hard. Organisation and time management are also necessary to be a Trainee Merchandiser, sometimes my to-do-list is never ending but it is important to know what tasks are urgent and what the deadlines are. Just one late email can result in missing a supplier deadline and stock being delayed. You need to be able to think analytically, using logic and common sense when planning.
Communication skills are key. You will be constantly discussing new ideas with your team and when it comes to presenting in selection meetings, which is where we showcase new ranges, you need to be able to present clearly and concisely. Commercial awareness is really important when it comes to working in retail to be able to spot best sellers, therefore an interest in retail and product is essential.
The best thing about being a Trainee at Next is the training and support you are given. Throughout the first few months you have sessions that really help you gain a deeper understanding of the systems you need to use and helps you develop skills needed to be a great merchandiser. You also have a week at “Buying and Merchandise School” where you are given the opportunities to sit down with other trainees and to put into practice some of the skills you have learnt. This is also a brilliant opportunity to get to know the other trainees and organise get togethers! The benefit of being a trainee at Next is also how quickly you are given real responsibility and your own product areas, you are never made to feel like an admin or helper.
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.
Salary: £21,017 p.a. plus benefits plus Bonus
Various start dates.
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
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