Trade is tough out there, but there is definitely a growing feeling of optimism – the weather finally appears to be improving, which will help us clear the remainder of our spring stock, and we are seeing some very exciting results on new AW12 lines.
Personally, I am exhausted, and I imagine the rest of my team feel the same! It has been a very long and difficult spring season, with a few key team members missing, and trading through it has meant we have all been very busy, working very long hours and trying to fight our way into the best possible position to drive sales and generate profit. However, with a well deserved holiday in sight, and a full team of great people in place, I feel ready to take on the approaching AW season with enthusiasm.
This week has been another busy one – I feel as if I am perpetual motion! I even seem to eat my lunch on the move, whilst simultaneously having supplier or sign off meetings, reading and responding to emails, or often whilst running up and down the stairs! There is regularly a queue outside my office these days, and my brain is on information overload – but I love, love, love it!
Having waded through monday morning trade for eight departments, looking at new best seller reactions, deciding on repeats and reviewing stock levels and forthcoming deliveries, I just had time to meet a potential new supplier before heading out for dinner with friends over from Istanbul. After a late night return home, Tuesday brought visits to three suppliers, dashing around London trying to spend as much time as possible with each. One of these is a major source, manufacturing primarily in China, India, Turkey and the UK. The second a denim source, producing predominantly in China, and finally a soft wovens supplier, manufacturing in Romania. It was a really interesting day, and spending time with these suppliers, and those from our previous visits to Leicester, is already paying dividends, as the samples and prices have already started flooding in! Wednesday was pre-selection day for the footwear and girlswear teams – going through their plans for SS13, and reviewing the products we want to take to final sign off with our directors. Thursday, I think, was the most random day I have had yet in this new role – starting off in a fairly normal manner, meeting with a representative from our key source in Bangladesh, then a sign off meeting for a small proportion of our SS13 Homeware range. Following that I joined up with one of our marketing team to run a model casting for a forthcoming swimwear and lingerie shoot. Now, I am used to selecting models for kidswear shoots – this generally has more to do with finding nice looking children who can behave in front of a camera (as opposed to running around, screaming, crying, pulling faces, throwing things, and fighting with the other kids….all of which I have been faced with in the past), but swimwear models are new to me, and to the few straight men in the building, judging by their reactions as each girl was brought through to the marketing office! Seventeen stunning models later, having looked through all their portfolio’s, and seen all of them in both bikini’s and lingerie, we have booked a great girl for the shoot….. and I have a complex about ever being seen in a bikini again!
Friday and out at an off site management meeting in the morning, grabbing a late lunch on the way back to the office, before a strategy meeting with one of our teams in the afternoon. With a few new team members, and boundless enthusiasm, it was a really great meeting – loads of new ideas and plenty of fantastic product, giving me renewed confidence that we are definitely on the right track!
Finally, having left the office at 6pm, by 7.30pm I was taking part in a “pilates-a-thon”, in aid of Cancer Research UK. After the week I have had, the last thing I felt like doing was the plank, the cat and the oyster, but it’s a cause very close to my heart, and I felt much better after I’d finished it! Saturday morning, more Pilates, before heading to Bluewater for some therapeutic holiday shopping, followed by a trip to Cotswold, to stock up on equipment for my sons rapidly approaching World Challenge trip to Ecuador. Today….. off to fight my way through the crowds to see the Olympic Torch come through Bexley.
Is it any wonder I need a holiday?!?!?!?!