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Fashion Buying & Merchandising - Full Time Year 1

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7 months


QQI Level 5


Awarding Body

Start Date

Start Date
October 2020

Fashion Buying & Merchandising - Full Time Year 1

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. We are hosting entrance interviews via Skype at this time.

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.  

This full-time Fashion Buying and Merchandising programme encompasses the foundations that are necessary to succeed as a fashion buyer in today's competitive environment. While fashion trends change from season to season the fundamental role of the fashion buyer and fashion merchandiser remains the same. As a fashion buyer, or fashion buyer assistant, you will play an integral role within the infrastructure of the retail team, tracking and analysing seasonal trends, ensuring production costs are kept within budget and most importantly, ensuring profit and growth for the company. You must have a good eye for style and trends together with a great sense of design and creativity, but foremost you must have good business acumen to achieve sales targets. Salaries for buyers start at €26,000 whilst Merchandiser salaries start at €32,000 per annum.

Putting into practice the skills learned in class is key to gaining employment in the fashion industry. Portobello Institute has established a strong network of connections with many of the main fashion buying and merchandising departments within some of Ireland's largest retailers. We have developed a work experience placement programme for our students to apply to participate on with some of the leading fashion brands in Ireland. These include brands operating in the luxury fashion arena such as  Brown Thomas and Harvey Nichols to brands operating in fast-moving high fashion such as Primark and Vero Moda. Companies participating on our work experience placement programme invest considerable time in our students and recruit directly from the placement programme.

This Fashion Buying and Merchandising course introduces you to the busy but exciting world of fashion. The relevant field trips, events and guest lecturers all enhance your opportunity to gain further relevant and practical experience.  You will learn to prepare mood boards, retail display and analyse fashion trends in line with customer needs. This course is designed to prepare our graduates to undertake a variety of roles within the fashion industry by introducing subjects from the worlds of fashion, business and retailing which are customised to the needs of the fashion industry.

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. Starting salaries range from €26,000 per annum.

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.
  • 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. Salaries start at €32,000 for this role.

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 Institute Certificate in Fashion Buying and Merchandising
  • QQI Level 5 Major Award in Retail Practice (5M2105)

Entry Requirements

Entry is by direct application to Portobello Institute and is based on interview selection.

Application Process

Step 1 - Complete the online booking form.

Step 2 - Applicants will be contacted and an interview arranged

Step 3 - Interview takes place

Step 4  - Confirmation of an offer of a place will be given to applicants meeting the selection criteria, with a formal offer emailed within 3 days of the interview.

Step 5 - Applicants have 14 days to confirm their acceptance of an offer by returning the acceptance form

The Interview

Places on this programme are limited. By interviewing all applicants, we can verify each student has the aptitude and personality to secure employment in the fashion industry. The interview will take place at a time convenient to applicants and is carried out by the programme manager. Our programme manager is seeking to understand that applicants have a genuine interest in working within the fashion industry, they understand the sector, the requirements of the programme and that this programme and Portobello Institute is the right career choice for them.

Please note places on this course are only confirmed once the deposit of tuition fees have been received.

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.

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.


This programme is 24 weeks in duration and is delivered over 2 semesters with examinations at the end of each semester. Practical classes are delivered in a fully equipped training rooms with theory classes taking place in one of the many theory rooms within Portobello Institute

Based on feedback from past students, we have condensed the class schedule to two and half days per week. This maximises the time available to students and allows them the time needed to study, participate on the work experience programme and work part-time. It also reduces the commuting time and accommodation expenses potentially incurred by students traveling from outside of Dublin.

Semester 1

The first semester runs for 12 weeks from 07/10/19 to 17/01/20.

Examinations & Assessments take place during the week commencing 20/01/20

Semester 2

The second semester runs for 12 weeks from 27/01/20 to 17/04/20.

Examinations & Assessments take place during the week commencing 20/04/20

The internship programme takes place during semester 2. The schedule is determined by the needs of the company the student is placed with.

Course Content

The aim of this course is to prepare graduates to secure employment in the fashion retail sector. The combination of the modules below ensure Portobello Institute's graduates have an excellent foundation across each of the key areas. This programme combines the practical skills together with the theoretical knowledge needed to work in this fast-paced environment.

1.    (5N3845) Level 5 Minor Award in Fashion Industry & Design Studies
2.    (5N1445) Level 5 Minor Award in Fashion Buying & Merchandising
3.    (5N0972) Level 5 Minor Award in Customer Service
4.    (5N1860) Level 5 Minor Award in Retail (Visual) Display
5.    (5N1356) Level 5 Minor Award in Work Experience (Industry Placement)
6.    (5N0690) Level 5 Minor Award in Communications
7.    (5N1619) Level 5 Minor Award in Retail Selling
8.    (5N1860) Level 5 Minor Award in Retail (Fashion) Administration
9.    (5N1364) Level 5 Minor Award in Digital Marketing
10.  (5N1977) Level 5 Minor Award in Spreadsheet Methods
11.  Fashion Styling


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;


  • 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


Course price is €4995

Protection for learners insurance fee: €200
Materials for course: Approx €350 throughout the course.

Payment - 40% of course fees due upon acceptance, balance and protection for learners fee due on 25th August 2020.

Easy Payment Plan

Acceptance of place - 40% = €2,116

Balance in to 3 instalments of 20% equal to €1,058 due 25th August, 25th November & 25th January 2021.

Instalment fee  payable - €295 spread across 4 payments, included in figures detailed above

Protection for learner fees are due on 25th August 2020

Please note places on this course are only confirmed once the deposit of tuition fees has been received.


From a very young age Elaine was largely influenced by her mum’s keen interest in and love of fashion.

I chose the fashion buying course at Portobello Institute as I knew it was a reputable college and that tutors are best in class with many years experience in the fashion industry themselves. Full story.

Elaine Culhane


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
FBM1-F-DS-OC-20 Portobello Institute, Dublin 1

05/10/20 - 23/04/21
Timetable issued September 20
€4995 Book Now
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