Head of buying Julia Redman on what’s happening at the retailer in the key run up to Christmas.
We all know that the Christmas trading period is such a vital time of year for retailers, but what really goes on behind the scenes?
We asked Julia Redman, head of buying, kids, mens, Kylie and home at M&Co, what the run up to Christmas is really like at retail.
“It’s a very busy time of year in the M&Co buying department – trading through this year’s Christmas lines and trying to hold our nerve, not marking down too soon so that we protect margin, but on the other hand, trying to ensure that we aren’t left with lots of Christmas stock after the festive season is over.
Meanwhile, we are also chasing in new lines for launch in January, to give the customer fresh and exciting ranges once the sale is over, while trying to manage the eternal problem of seasonality, and appropriateness for the time of year. Stock for this timing needs to look as if it is headlining a new season, but still take into consideration that January and February are the coldest months of the year.
Enticing a customer to part with their cash during this time is always a challenge, which is one of the reasons why licensed product can be such a winner for this timing – launching a new and exciting licence can really create a change of pace and create a visual focus in-store, particularly in childrenswear. Over the coming weeks we will be launching new lines on Dinosaur Roar, LEGO Batman, Peppa Pig, Harry Potter and Guess How Much I Love You, to name just a few.
We are planning window schemes and in-store layouts for all our childrenswear ranges, making sure that we create exciting in-store licensed character destinations, alongside our key denim and fashion ranges, as well as making sure we have enough layering pieces to keep those little ones warm on chilly days. We have been running an in-store competition for the best visual merchandising and in-store layout on JCB – to keep the momentum going – and the results have been amazing. Our in-store teams have really got behind it and created a great focus for boyswear, so we’ll be using this initiative again to drive sales growth on other licences.
You can check out the winning JCB display from Dunoon in Scotland below.
In addition to all of that, we are in the midst of planning AW17, developing business wide and departmental strategies to continue our growth plans for the latter half of next year.
To date this year across our various formats of standalone UK stores, concessions in partner retailers and international stores, we have opened 20 new branches, and our online business is going from strength to strength. We have been back three weeks from our main AW17 buying trip to China and India, during which we visited many of our key factories and suppliers, and we are starting to see development samples coming back, agreeing details, colours and prices, to enable us to start building even better ranges for next autumn and Christmas.
Of course, there will always be time for a Christmas Party or two. Our buying teams are a very sociable crowd, and the cliché of ‘work hard, play hard’ really does apply at this time of year!”