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The numbers game

Home-grown merchandising talent is in hot demand with overseas retailers, and UK businesses are being encouraged to offer competitive packages in order to attract and retain staff.

The UK's strong reputation for its merchandisers means home-grown talent is in demand with international fashion businesses, while the expansion of domestic online and bricks-and-mortar retailers overseas is yielding new opportunities in this field.

"International retailers are crying out for good UK buyers and merchandisers," says Julie Man, recruitment consultant, buying and merchandising at Fashion & Retail Personnel. "At the moment we're coming across quite a lot of international roles. We may be in a recession in the UK, but ecommerce and international is growing really well. So those are two areas that are massively expanding, but it can be difficult to find candidates with experience across both of those areas," she says.

Progression and recruitment decisions are based on the kind of volume, turnover and in-season 'open-to-buys' budget that candidates have previously overseen. "It's about the kind of volume you've managed and traded. In order to gain a position at large retailers like River Island and Arcadia, merchandisers need to have managed similar budgets before," says Man.

Drapers' research into average salaries shows that unlike buying, salaries outside of London are on an even keel with those in the capital. Average London salaries for an allocator start at £19,620, £18,086 outside, and reach £100,688 and £104,271 at merchandising director level, for inside and outside of London respectively.

Andrey Savin, Fashion Retail MA graduate from the London College of Fashion says finding the right role to apply for has been a challenge, but that the average salaries shown in Drapers' research are encouraging. "I have an analytical mind and love working with numbers, but there doesn't seem to be that many entry-level roles around at the moment. It's good to see that in the end the financial rewards will be there, whether I work in or out of London," he says. However, the pool of candidates looking for entry-level roles is lower than in design or buying. "Merchandising roles can be harder to fill, as there aren't so many people enamoured by the numbers and analytical side of things," concludes Man.

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