Work Placement


For my 3 weeks placement I went to M&Co Buying Head Office in Paddington. I learnt so many skills and gained an insight on what it was like to be a Buyer. I worked alongside the BAA, helping with fittings, trade, critical path, filing, orders and amendments and getting everything ready for the meetings.
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M&Co Autumn/Winter 15

Responsibilities of a BAA at M&Co

LEVEL 1: They will visit competition on the high street, noting prices and products, they then feedback this information to the assistant buyer and buyer. They will read journals, magazines etc. about the seasonal trends and movements on the high street. They also regularly undertake store visits to understand story layouts and the importance of CPM to ensure range is all present in store.

Ensure all bought samples are photographed and stored in a communal place for all the team to access. Organises the sample room according to season/ product/ ensuring correct details i.e. CP are on each garment. Ensures the working place is maintained to a high standard by tidying samples. Ensures regular maintenance of the sample room so all samples are readily available for meetings. Under guidance from AB, prepares garment rails proactively checking all garments are available correctly hung, labelled and cubed. Monitors any garments which are not readily available and ensures they are retuned promptly.

Manages lab dips and bulk approval filing system. Updates relevant spread sheets and liaises with supplier to communicate approvals. Ensures all approvals are filed In an organised and timely manner. Organises fit session including supplier time slots, ensuring all previous fits, sealers are available.

Ensures suppliers are aware of the importance of regular CP updates. Updates CP will all relevant information as a daily focus. Ensures all orders, including repeats are added onto the CP in a timely manner. Highlights any potential issues to a team- in particular ensures the AB is constantly updated with CP progress. Sends all samples to the web team on time and updates CP accordingly. Manages a weekly critical path update meeting with Assistant Buyer.

Manages the setting up of all orders on the system in a timely manner. Ensures order is thoroughly checked prior to signature. Ensures relevant photograph of sample is attached to all orders. After order signing- emails order to supplier and department copy filed. Ensures all correct paths are completed for web management.

Ensures an organised filing system is maintained on the department for orders, colour approved and all other correspondence. Answers all telephone calls in professional manner and ensures all messages are noted and relayed to relevant personnel and follows up any actions if necessary. Checks and collects all postal deliveries and forwards to relevant personnel. Carries out the effective use of email I line with company policy. Actions all relevant photocopying and faxing. Maintains a tidy working environment. Ensures a high level of communication with team members at all times.

LEVEL 2: They will update relevant spread sheets analysing prices vs. the competition on a monthly basis. They will discuss confidently market activity to AB and Buyer and suggest any actions to be taken. When they undertake store visits they are expected to, along with the BA, feedback from the store managers to report back to Buyer.

Regularly carries out the sending of the samples the warehouse, ensuring they are sent to the correct location with the appropriate paperwork.

In absence of the AB, takes an active part in fit sessions and feeds back on their return. Updates approval spread sheets when production samples are approved. Ensures any ‘on holds’ are communicated and dealt with quickly and effectively ad kept to a minimum. Acquires a thorough understanding of fabric and fit within the department.

Liaises with QA team on fitting, sealing and approval process and ensures CP is updated. Seeks solutions to any issues and then feeds back to team giving a possible alternative course of action.

Updates the mega and MOS, noting reasons on the mega for goods that are late. Ensures supplier maintains original critical path dates to achieve an efficient order process.

Ensures that all lab dips are correctly filed on the department and the central lap dip file. Following this system through for bulk approvals

LEVEL 3: They will action all competitor store visits to analyse price, quality, sourcing and styling. They will also identify areas of opportunity to AB and Buyer.

Communicates Buyer comments on embroidery, applique positioning and sizes to relevant parties. Confidently holds a fit session deputising for AB.

Regularly reviews the running of the order process and suggest any improvements to AB.

M3 and D2

Having my work experience at M&Co has helped me develop transferable business skills.

On my placement I completed two comp shops, one at Oxford Street and one at Westfield’s White City. The first comp shop was for the head of design at M&Co; she needed inspiration for patterns and design for Christmas next year. So I had to go Marks and Spencer’s, Next, Matalan, John Lewis, BHS and Debenhams. When I was in the shops I had to take pictures of product, window displays, store layouts and prices. On my second comp shop it was for the upcoming season so I had to go in the same shops and take lots of pictures within certain collections specifically for the casual department. So I was looking at similar products that M&Co provided. Doing these comp shops helped me develop analytical skills because I had to analyze and research all the companies and then choose which products to use and take pictures of. This task also helped with meeting deadlines because I had to back at the office at a certain time. Analytical skills will help me with my career plan in the future because comp shops will be vital within the buying industry because you will need to know what the trends are and what your competitors are doing.

I also developed written communication when on my placement. This consisted of replying and emailing to suppliers about different orders ensuring that the supplier was getting things done on time and answering any enquiries they had about the product. I also had to make orders on a system called UniPaas M.O.S. This was where I had to write all the details about the order on a special system, which stores all the orders on. These orders were then sent to the supplier to forward information onto the factory to get production started. Written communication will help me with my future career plan because being a buyer you will need to have a good relationship with your supplier and be able to communicate with them well. I also developed verbal communication and Teamwork on my placement. Working as a buyer you have to communicate with suppliers, the buying team, merchandisers, garment technologists, designers and other people from different departments. So when completing my tasks I was given I had to ensure I was communicating with everyone in the team and ask anyone if I was struggling. Working in a team is key for my future career plan because when being a buyer you need to be able to work with the people around you because there would be too much work for the buyer to do all by themselves.

One of the key things I learnt being at a buying office is that the critical path is vital for the BAA. It is all done on Excel and is where all the orders, amendments and fitting information are. So when orders need to be changed or seen it’s all on there. One of my main jobs at the placement was to keep updating the critical path. This helped me gain ICT literate and Numeracy skills. This is key for my future career plan because nearly everything is done over the computer and I will need to be advanced in Excel.

Organization is another skill I developed. Each order, amendment, lab dip and fabric had to be filed alphabetically and in the correct folder. So I had to ensure that these folders were checked and filed properly. I also had to ensure that my desk was tidy and organized in a good manner. Organization is good for my future plan because when being a buyer you need to be able to keep on top of the workload.

In order to develop flexibility as a skill, I went into work earlier and also left the office later if there was things that needed to be done or if I needed to help the BAA. Flexibility is vital for my career plan because when being a buyer you need to be able to get up early and stay up late in order to get all the work done.

The things that were not as beneficial to my transferable business skills was collecting the post from the post room, hanging up clothes and unpacking suitcases full of clothes. However i got to see the whole process that goes on in the office. Some of the tasks could get quite repetitive so i wasn't really learning new skills i was just using the skills i learnt in the first week throughout the three weeks. The things that were good from my work placement that helped me develop my transferable business skills were the comp shops and the critical path. The comp shop helped me develop analytical skills, verbal communication, working to deadlines/ timekeeping and decision making. The critical path helped me with written communication, numeracy and ICT literate.

I got to gain an insight on what it was like to be a fashion buyer. I was able to ask questions and get advice on my future career. I really enjoyed doing the comp shops and fittings. It helped me see the reality of being a fashion buyer and what it would entail. If I was do the whole placement again I would of maybe asked even more questions to help me gain more skills and asked if I could get involved in more as sometimes I felt like I was being a burden and because it was such a fast paced environment and they were so busy I was scared to ask for things to do. I think if id asked to do more i could of maybe spoke to suppliers more and gone to more meetings which would of helped me to gain a skill in negotiation.