Bonus time

Sales is still financially rewarding, but people in these roles are being made to work harder for their money.

Sales is one of the most well-paid jobs within fashion. A London-based sales director earns an average of £87,230 as a basic salary and their package tends to include a mobile, company car and laptop. That's before adding commission and bonuses, one of the attractions to working in sales. Oliver Strickland, UK country manager at Swedish lifestyle brand J Lindeberg, says the company usually offers an annual 15%bonus on hitting a sales target.

However, dig a little deeper and it's not all rosy. Sales salaries have declined due to the tough economic climate, says Jennifer Green, recruitment manager for design, production, technical and sales at Fashion& Retail Personnel. "It's just frustrating for us, as a company wants someone to bring in all their business but they want to pay a silly amount... and [that doesn't attract] the right candidates. [When times were good] I would have said sales directors commanded a salary of £100,000 basic," she says. Strickland also believes sales salaries have stagnated during recent years and adds that sales people "are probably being under paid for the amount of work they are doing".

However, due to a higher turnover of staff in sales roles, some companies are working harder to retain talent. One managing director of a distribution agency says: "There is talent out there but a lot of competition as well. We give commission as an incentive but we're also looking at serving sales staff better so providing them with more support and access to the right programmes [for example, stock level management and ordering information; things to [better] facilitate their job."

When it comes to recruiting sales managers, heads of brands tend to know exactly who they want. "It's quite incestuous in these sales manager roles," says Green. "Everyone knows everyone so the chance is they will go direct to the contacts and not use recruiters as much." However, one senior recruiter for a brand believes that product knowledge and personable skills are more important than a strong contacts book. She says: "For us it's not about aggressive sales. There's no need to open a lot more doors, it's more about relationship management."