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Programme Manager insight into the role of a buyer

We are delighted to share this education piece from Fashion Programme Manager Annemarie McAuley on the role of a buyer and what we do here at Portobello Institute to teach and encourage our students to prepare for a career in fashion buying.

The world of a buyer is both fast-paced and diverse. Behind the hustle and bustle of the shop floor lies a hard-working industry of professionals to ensure everything runs smoothly. One of the most important positions in the process is that of the retail buyer who is the individual ultimately in charge of making sure products reach the shelves of stores. From source to store the buyer ensures that the right product at the right time is available for the consumer.

The retail buyer is much more than just a purchaser. Before any decisions can be made over which products to stock in-store, the buyer engages in research and analysis of consumer trends and behaviours. After putting together a buying strategy, decisions must be made on budgets, time-scales and where to source products intended for stores.

Successful buyers must have excellent mathematical skills, a creative approach to problem solving and be able to drive a hard bargain with suppliers as well as having a keen eye for spotting upcoming trends.

A buyer's head is always in three places at any given time. Analysing last season and last year’s sales, what is currently happening in store and what is coming for the next season. It is a demanding, diverse, fun and exciting role.

We are delighted to share an exclusive insight into how we prepare our students for this busy role here in our QQI fashion buying and merchandising courses.

Firstly, we develop their trend forecasting skills and teach our students how to profile a customer. We teach them how to develop a range plan of products together using both mathematical and creative skills.

They also learn about supplier relationships, key performance indicators, presentation skills and store merchandising so they understand how to maximise space to sales ratios. In buying the students develop range plans and mood boards in class and also present to the group.

The students also learn design, how a garment is constructed and how materials are sourced. In class the students learn how to sew and design, draft a pattern and create a garment from scratch while learning how to sew.

They also develop key skills in merchandising learning how create planograms and the opportunity to produce a retail window display which is part of the assessment process.

Annemarie is a dedicated programme manager to all of her students, with a focus on helping and supporting them to be successful and she has a strong commitment to seeing them through to a career in fashion.  Her commitment to students is ever present with ongoing correspondences from graduates having secured roles as fashion buyers and merchandisers all over the globe. 

We offer students full and part-time rolling course options. To begin your exciting career in fashion please call Jenny Cosgrave on 01 8920007 or

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