Natalie C.
Buying Lead
Job Function Buying

About Natalie

Key Experiences

An English Literature Degree that led to a career in buying!
I entered M&S through their graduate scheme in 2007, having completed a degree in English Literature and wondered what to do next! I applied to the graduate scheme having done some work experience at head office, and was willing to take on a role either in stores or within buying at the office just to get my foot in the foor.

My first appointment was as a trainee Assistant Buyer in the boyswear team, where I learned the basics of the job role while also taking part in the graduate training and workshops that were available.

From there, I moved my way around kids - from core volume lines and big peak planning on kids nightwear, to catwalk response and fast fashion trading on girlswear, into a role on babywear that has encompassed products I never thought I'd be involved with such as toys, maternity clothes, and nursery bedding!

My most recent role is as a Buying Lead within kids, where I remain an operational buyer in babywear (so can still handle the product day to day and lead a team) but take additional accountability for more strategic planning across the Business Unit, supporting the Head of Buying to drive kidswear forwards and working with all the other areas (e.g. womens, mens, lingerie, home) to share best practise and ideas.

Current Position

I'm the Buying Lead for Kidswear
This means I have day to day buying responsibilities within my own department and am also involved in more top line strategy and planning for kidswear.

The main focus of my role is to develop and deliver great product to our customer - working with the design team to brief our factories, then negotiating prices and agreeing delivery dates to bring ranges into store. We then track their sales and respond accordingly for future ranges, so we're always changing what we buy and the way we buy it. There's a lot of people involved in making this happen and my job is to make sure we're all on track - I really enjoy the teamwork that's involved.

As a Buying Lead, I am also involved in delivering the objectives for kidswear as a wider group. This covers a wide range of challenges, such as working across all teams at M&S to find best practises and embedding them within the business unit, supporting colleagues from areas such as marketing and ecom, contributing to the top line strategy for the area, and being on hand to support the senior leadership team each day.

Main Motivations

I love developing product, but the teamwork is my highlight
Developing amazing product is great fun, and I particularly love the start of a new season when we spend time shopping into key trends and then sending briefs out to our factories - finding new fabrics and trims, working on new fits etc - it's a really inspiring part of the role. We then travel to the factories to negotiate prices and refine the product. Seeing the world in this way has been an amazing opportunity and I've learned more than I could have imagined about what goes into making a garment!

However, my favourite part of the job is working with such a brilliant team. It takes input from a lot of people to get product from a concept all the way through to stores and I really enjoy the opportunity to work with so many different areas of the business and learn about what they do. I also love developing the buyers in my team - watching them get satisfaction and enjoyment from their role makes me feel even more motivated!

Top Advice

Don't ever give up!
As in any job, there are times when things are tough - whether it's the economic climate affecting your sales or you're facing competition for a role. The key is to keep knocking on doors - stay positive and something will always come up in the end. If you really love what you do that will help to drive you forwards when things are difficult so make sure you don't lose sight of why you took the role!

Greatest Achievement

We won 'Team of the Year'!
It was a huge achievement for us, to be recognised as the department that had delivered the most that year. We felt especially proud because Babywear had been in quite a mess and it had taken 18 months of hard work and gritting our teeth to get things back on track! Knowing that the effort we were putting in was showing in the sales and winning back customers was a huge moment for us. The thing that made us most proud, though, was that we were partly recognised for introducing a specialist clothing range on the back of customer feedback. Knowing that we worked for a business that would support us to deliver something that was purely for the customer, despite knowing it would never turn into a big cash driver, was incredibly motivating and inspiring.

Marks & Spencer

Marks and Spencer is a major British multinational retailer headquartered in the City of Westminster, London. It specialises in the selling of clothing, home products and luxury food products. M&S was founded in 1884 by Michael Marks and Thomas Spencer in Leeds.