Creative direction

Working in product development can be a stepping stone to the next level, so staff are happy to compromise on salary for a place at the right company.

With more than20 years in the fashion industry, Simon Poole, owner of men's young fashion brand Luke, says recruiting to fill product development roles at its Birmingham and Oxfordshire offices has always been easy due to his extensive contacts list.

"When you are my age you tend to have networked lots and I am lucky to have kept in contact with some of my old employees who normally point me in the right direction of the talent," he says.

While Poole admits he doesn't lure staff in with any particular benefits, his formula is simple: "We are a good company to work for and a place where people have room to express themselves and take ownership," he says.

It also helps that product development roles are highly sought after due to the creativity potential.

However, according to Charlotte Ayres, senior consultant for design, production, technical and sales at Fashion & Retail Personnel, there are few product development roles around: "Candidates are tending to stay put rather than being last in and first out."

Tough economic conditions mean the higher end of the salary bands are hard to achieve. Our data shows that within London, product development managers earn on average £41,444 a year, brand/product managers £44,889 and product developers £23,230. When people climb the ladder to the next role, salaries will only increase by about 10%, says Ayres.

According to Poole, employees are happy to be paid a lower salary for working for a premium brand "as the kudos and name on the CV " are more worthwhile than a higher pay packet and can help them reach the next level in their career path.

A recent Kurt Geiger job ad for a product developer at its office in Farringdon, London shows that as well a "competitive basic salary", benefits include pension and life assurance as well as "enviable discounts".

This is in line with what Ayres' experiences, but she says some big companies might also offer a discretionary bonus and perhaps a car allowance. She says it is unlikely that those working in this sector would be provided with a mobile or laptop.