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Fashion Buying & Merchandising - 3 Modules Booking Package

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8 - 10 Months


QQI Level 5


Awarding Body

Start Date

Start Date
September 2020

Fashion Buying & Merchandising - 3 Modules Booking Package

We are working remotely and are available to support you with any queries you have - please email Brandon at or call him on 01-8920035. 

Our academic delivery teams are all also working remotely and are supporting our students to continue with their studies through online learning or to get started for those just commencing their learning journey.  

Fashion buyers and merchandisers are key decision makers in the fashion industry and as such are required to constantly keep their fingers to the pulse of one of the world's fastest moving industries. By tracking and analysing market trends it is their job to recommend to their employers the next direction to take in line with upcoming style shifts. As a fashion buyer your job will be to attend shows held in the fashion capitals of the world, forecast trends, buy the right clothes at the right time, whilst at the same time always ensuring profits and growth for the company.

The part time Fashion Buying and Merchandising course covers all the essential elements to turn a creative eye and an interest in fashion into a practical career in an incredibly exciting industry. Putting into practice the skills learned in class is key to gaining employment in the fashion industry. Our graduates have been incredibly successful gaining employment both at home and abroad. Much of this success is due to the established strong links with many of the main fashion buying and merchandising departments within some of Ireland's largest retailers. Part-time students have the option to participate on the work experience placement programme, contribute to the Irish Fashion Designer Showcase and attend key events in the annual fashion calendar.

The Buyer


A retail buyer is responsible for planning and selecting a range of products to sell in retail outlets. The buyer must consider the following factors when making purchasing decisions:


  • Customer demand, including price, quality and availability assortment
  • Trend Forecasting
  • Sales analysis
  • Financial budgets.

Buyers source new merchandise and review existing items to ensure products remain competitive. By fully understanding customer needs, they are able to maximise profits and provide a commercially viable range of merchandise at competitive prices. Keeping up to date with market trends and reacting to changes in demand are key elements of the role.

Retail buyers have a considerable amount of responsibility and autonomy in what is often a pressured environment.

Typical work activities can vary according to the season. This is particularly true for those working in fashion. For example, out of season, the majority of time will be spent in the workplace (in the office and on the shop floor), and during the buying season, a significant amount of time will be spent away from the workplace in order to assemble a new collection of merchandise.

Typical work activities

  • analysing consumer buying patterns and predicting future trends; 
  • regularly reviewing key performance indicators, such as sales anddiscount levels;
  • managing plans for stock levels;
  • reacting to changes in demand and logistics;
  • meeting suppliers and negotiating terms of contract;
  • maintaining relationships with existing suppliers and sourcing new suppliers for future products;
  • liaising with other departments within the organisation to ensure projects are completed;
  • attending trade fairs, in the UK and overseas, to select and assemble a new collection of products;
  • participating in promotional activities;
  • writing reports and forecasting sales levels;
  • presenting new ranges to senior retail managers;
  • liaising with shop personnel to ensure supply meets demand;
  • getting feedback from customers;
  • training and mentoring junior staff.

 are in


  • strong analytical skills;
  • negotiating skills and the ability to network and influence people;
  • teamworking and interpersonal skills;
  • excellent communication skills;
  • numeracy skills and proficiency using IT;
  • good organisation skills and the ability to multitask;
  • the ability to cope with the pressure of having to make important decisions and meet tight deadlines;
  • the ability to work in a fast-paced environment and achieve targets;
  • drive and determination;
  • commercial awareness;
  • leadership attributes;
  • creative flair;
  • confident presentation style;
  • a passion for retail.


The Retail Merchandiser


Merchandisers are responsible for ensuring that products appear in the right store, or on a website, at the appropriate time and in the correct quantities. This involves working closely with the buying teams to accurately forecast trends, plan stock levels and monitor performance.


While the buyer selects the lines, the merchandiser decides how much money should be spent, how many lines should be bought, and in what quantities. In smaller companies, the same person may be responsible for both buying and merchandising.

Merchandisers play a key role within organisations, as profitability can be affected by how successfully they undertake their work. Merchandisers set prices to maximise profits and manage the performance of ranges, planning promotions and markdowns as necessary. They also oversee delivery and distribution of stock and deal with suppliers.

Typical work activities

These vary depending on the company and the particular retail sector, but will typically include:

  • planning product ranges and preparing sales and stock plans in conjunction with buyers;
  • liaising with buyers, analysts, stores, suppliers and distributors;
  • maintaining a comprehensive library of appropriate data;
  • working closely with visual display staff and department heads to decide how goods should be displayed to maximise customer interest and sales;
  • producing layout plans for stores, sometimes called 'statements';
  • forecasting profits and sales, and optimising the sales volume and profitability of designated product areas;
  • planning budgets and presenting sales forecasts and figures for new ranges;
  • controlling stock levels based on forecasts for the season;
  • using specialist computer software, for example to handle sales statistics, produce sales projections and present spreadsheets and graphs;
  • analysing every aspect of bestsellers (for example, the bestselling price points, colours or styles) and ensuring that bestsellers reach their full potential


Qualification Gained

  • Portobello Certificate in Fashion Buying & Merchandising
  • QQI Level 5 minor award in Fashion Buying and Merchandising (5N1445)
  • QQI Level 5 minor award in Fashion Industry and Design Studies (5N3845)
  • QQI Level 5 minor award in Visual Display (5N1861)

Entry Requirements

Entry to this course is by direct application to the college. There are no previous academic requirements.

This is a part time course delivered 1 evening per week over 30 weeks. The course consists of 3 modules, each covered over a 10 week period. All of these modules when completed are the full Fashion Buying & Merchandising certificate.

Work Experience Placement Programme

Putting into practice the skills learned in class is key to gaining employment in the fashion industry. Portobello Institute has established strong links with many of the main fashion buying and merchandising departments within some of Ireland's largest retailers. We are delighted to announce our students, full and part-time, can now participate on a work experience placement programme with some of the participating companies listed below. This is an optional element of the programme;


  • Arnotts
  • Brown Thomas
  • Harvey Nicholls
  • Primark
  • Dunnes Stores
  • Lifestyle Sports
  • Jack & Jones
  • Junarose
  • Mamalicious
  • Name IT
  • Noisy May
  • Only, Only & Sons
  • Postyr
  • Pamela Scott
  • Selected
  • Vero Moda
  • Vila Clothes

QQI Level 5N1445 Fashion Buying & Merchandising.

  • Identify the key elements of fashion buying and merchandising.
  • Learn the role of the 1. The Fashion Buyer and 2. The Merchandiser
  • Understand the fashion cycle, what is meant by the obsolescence factor and its impact on the fashion product.
  • Demonstrate the importance of the duration of fashion as a critical merchandising concern.
  • Identify the broad influences which affect the purchase of fashion.
  • Understand the fundamentals of fashion.
  • Create a seasonal selling calendar
  • Develop presentation skills
  • Develop the elements of a financial range plan - excel
  • List the forces that affect the buyers range plan.
  • Explain the relationship between stock turnover and the stock sales ratio.
  • Identify sources where a fashion retailer would get products, both domestic and off shore.
  • Understand the relationship between the Suppliers, manufacturer and the buyer.
  • Explain the term ‘open-to-buy’ and the relevance in the business
  • Understand the journey from source to store of a product
  • Create a Range Plan for a for a specific retailer
  • Understand the role that technology has played in the selling practices or fashion retail organisations.
  • List the main activities of Fashion promotion.
  • Define Market segmentation
  • Understanding the merchandising process
  • Develop a store layout (planogram)
  • Research and construct a promotional plan for a fashion retailer.
  • Explain the term customer profiling.
  • Understand the role the customer plays in influencing and informing buying decisions
  • Identity the strategies used by retailers, both internally and externally, to get information about the customer.
  • Develop a customer profile and Evaluate the impact of customer profiling for the retailer.
  • Design and present inspiration and range plan mood boards
  • Learn KPI’s (key performance indicators) and the importance of sales analysis in buying and merchandising.
  • Trend Forecasting

QQI Level 5N0784 Fashion Design Skills

  • Explore the Design process 
  • Outline the appropriate strategies to respond to a design brief
  • Explain the inter-relationships between those involved in a design process - the    client, the designer, the maker and the user
  • Explain the purpose and the role of the tools, materials and technologies relevant to a design spec. 
  • Engage in a design process from briefing, through research and development, to presentation and execution
  • Interpret a design brief in terms of with reference to a target audience, budget and deadlines
  • Research a design brief by collecting, selecting and collating primary and secondary source materials
  • Develop design led mood boards.
  • Learn to design, draft, cut and construct a garment
  • Learn to use a state of the art sewing machine.
  • Understand the importance of colour wheels, colour blocking.


 QQI Level 5N1861 Retail Visual Display


  • Key terminology and features in relation to display and presentation of products for sale in the retail environment
  • Examine the key principles and theories relating to merchandising and product display design
  • Analyse the characteristics of a range of materials and retail display components available to the retail sector
  • Analyse the impact of a range of factors on the design of a retail display to include customer needs, retail ethics, location, type of goods, stock rotation and retail environment 2
  • Analyse key legislation in relation to retail display to include public liability, sale of goods and consumer rights
  • Evaluate the use of lighting and background colour in merchandising
  • Discuss the impact of marketing and branding on retail display
  • Analyse the health and safety implications of a retail display
  • Suggest health and safety initiatives aimed at improving safety in relation to a retail display
  • Design a retail window display to include appropriate materials and construction
  • Create a thematic display relevant to a specific retail context and product
  • Employ the use of a range of graphics to communicate pricing and offers to customers of a retail outlet
  • Assess the impact of security considerations on the design of a retail display
  • Assess the suitability of various locations within a retail unit for positioning of product displays

Essential to becoming a buyer or merchandiser is developing a keen eye for trends, understanding the cycle within the fashion industry and having the opportunity to network and meet professionals in the Fashion industry. Portobello Institute has integrated a number of key events within the fashion calendar to expose students of this course to the professionals working in the sector. Participation in these activites is optional for part-time students.

Fashion Event Showcasing Irish Designers

Each year, students of this programme collaborate together to create a showcase event for Irish designers. The purpose of this event is to give students the opportunity to work with designers and gain some understanding of the designer showcase and buying process.

Field Trips

Portobello Institute organises trips each year to the following major fashion events in the annual calendar;

  • Fashion City, Dublin
  • Pure in London
  • Moda in Birmingham
  • Pret-a-Porter, Milan, Italy

These are usually one day return trips and are booked with minimal cost for students. They are not included in the fees and are optional.

Guest Lecturers

Once off guest lectures are organised throughout the calendar year to give students and opportunity to gain insight into either a particular brand, the career of an established and successful professional in the fashion industry or an upcoming trend in fashion. These lecturers vary year to year but are always an interesting experience for our students.

Course price €2596

Protection for learners insurance fee: €97
Materials approx: €150

Easy Payment Plan

Deposit of 40% = €999

Balance in to 5 instalments of €319 due 10th of the month after the course starts.  Payments can be made by credit/debit card, electronic fund transfer or in person to our offices.

Instalment fee  payable - €195 spread across all instalment payments, included in figures detailed above. Total Repayable - €2694.

Read our Terms of Enrolment here for more information about payment arrangements


Portobello Institute gave me exactly what I needed in order to achieve my goal.

Megan always knew she wanted to work in the fashion industry, I grew up in a family business and my Mum was a designer specialising in wedding and occasion wear so I spent my childhood behind the counter learning the trade. Full Story.

Megan Gallagher


Interning at both Arnott's and Primark helped Seana to understand which type of buying was for her.

Our tutor Annemarie went above and beyond to help us achieve our goals - sending on job specs, helping you prep for interviews and general career advice. Full story

Seana Woods


I found the content extremely relevant and everything I learned I could take with me in the next steps of my career.

Without completing the course none of this would have been possible so I’ll be forever grateful to Portobello Institute. Full story

Simon Cullen


One key highlight was the term spent completing visual display and learning all about display with an abundance of opportunity to be creative.

I found the course to be well rounded and the perfect mix of buying, design and visual, ticking all the boxes across fashion to secure the right job in industry. Full story

Amy Griffin

Apply Now

Course Code Location & Info Price
FBMM-P-DS-SP-20 Portobello Institute, Dublin 1

09/09/20 - 28/04/21
Wednesday, 6.30 - 9.30pm
€2596 Book Now
FBMM-P-DS-OC-20 Portobello Institute, Dublin 1

20/10/20 - 01/06/21
Tue, 6.30-9.30pm
€2596 Book Now
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