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My last day at Liberty. Most of today was actually spent playing dress up as Red magazine was photographing me for the article about my time at Liberty. They sent a makeup artist and a photographer, so I felt very glamorous and spoilt. Like most people, I don't feel very comfortable in front of a camera, but the photographer was so lovely that she made me feel less anxious. She had actually spent the last 2 days photographing Cheryl Cole for the L'Oreal adverts, but unfortunately was the consummate professional and I didn't manage to get any gossip about Chezza out of her.
I was really sad to be leaving Liberty, as I have had such a terrific month. I feel I have seen so many different aspects of the business, from HR, to buying, to press, and it has been absolutely fascinating. Each department has been so different, in terms of the job but also the working atmosphere and my colleagues, and they have all been really wonderful. I have always loved Liberty, but now I am a convert for life.
This morning we were sent an email from a magazine which wanted some items for a feature on chic work wear. More often than not, magazines and stylists ask for specific items that they want to use for a feature, but in this case they left it up to us to decide what to send over. Obviously this allowed us to be a lot more creative, and have a taste of life as Grace Coddington (at a stretch!). As it is for the April edition of the magazine, we wanted to avoid an entirely black palette, so we opted for a tomato red Marc by Marc skirt, a white Joseph top, a black and white Rozae Nicols dress, a black Anglomania skirt and a Rag and Bone black jacket. Hopefully they went down well.
After that, yours truly at Red Magazine asked us to send over some samples of beautifully packaged soaps. The bath shop on the 3rd Floor at Liberty has a huge selection of beautiful Nesti Dante soaps, so we sent over 4 of them for the article.
The press department was in a great state of excitement this afternoon, as tonight is the launch party of the new Nike vs Liberty trainers. The textile department at Liberty has reworked some fabric designs and also created some new ones for the Nike trainers. It is the most recent collaboration that Liberty has had with a 'youth' brand since the partnership with Mac to create Mac Book covers. The launch party is on the 2nd Floor at Liberty which has been transformed into a Nike and Liberty sponsored basketball arena.
This morning we were doing some jewellery pull outs for Tank magazine. They wanted a coral necklace and bracelet by Lanvin and a YSL statement beaded necklace, which will all look fantastic in an editorial. Every item that is sent to magazines and stylists must be meticulously noted, as so many items are sent out each day and obviously it adds up to thousands of pounds worth of stock.
The Guardian had sent back some womenswear items that they had used for a shoot the previous week, so we checked through them to ensure they were the correct pieces and returned in good condition. Each sample has to be relabelled and steamed before it goes back out to other magazines and stylists. I had never used a steamer before; they are amazing - I need one in my life.
This morning I went to the fragrance department on the ground floor to source some men's fragrances for a magazine. They are running a feature on fragrances that have 'green' notes in their composition, such as vetiver, cucumber and oak moss. The sales associates in the fragrance department are incredibly knowledgeable, particularly Marc who works for Le Labo.
Le Labo is an incredible perfume lab on the ground floor of Liberty. They create the fragrances for you whilst you are waiting, so they are all freshly made. I might have to get one before I finish at Liberty…
Then Ellie (another press intern) and I then did a pull out of items for The Guardian. They requested about 14 items, but we are only able to send out 5 at any one time. They wanted a mixture of Sonia Rykiel, Isabel Marant and APC, so I presume they are running a feature about French style. Entering the stock rooms on the International Designers floor makes me feel like a kid in a candy store.
I am really excited about this week in the press office. It will be fascinating to see the inside track on how a department store manages and promotes its image through the press - particularly as Liberty has such a strong identity.
Chloe and Sophie are the Press Officers at Liberty and I will be working with them. We spent a lot of time going through the store and pulling up items that magazines such as Elle Decoration have asked for, to be featured in their shoots. The press officers have appointments with stylists and fashion editors to decide what will be used in features, or otherwise the press department is ed and asked to send specific items that the magazines want to feature. There were a few items that we couldn't send out as they were the only units left in the store, so obviously if they are featured in a magazine and someone wants to buy them, they need to be in stock.
This morning I went on a floor walk of the bath department on the 3rd floor with Sarah. Sarah has a lot of plans in the pipeline to expand the department and to make it more successful. I made a detailed floor plan of the department, and listed all the brands and where they are currently housed. Visual merchandising is an important part of their job, and it was fascinating to hear Sarah’s comments about the layout of the room, and how customers respond to placing products in different areas or displayed in a different way. I really enjoyed the visual merchandising aspect of their role, and it is something I would love to gain more experience in.
I was really sad to leave the beauty team as they had been such a pleasure to work with, and I really enjoyed the 2 weeks I spent with them. They generously gave me a leaving gift- a good bag stuffed with beauty goodies! Hopefully I should be glowing for the start of my week in the press office on Monday!
Today I was mainly sorting out the Shu Uemura codes, which was a pretty lengthy job, but I enjoy problem solving so I found it rather satisfying. Data entry and raising purchase orders is an important part of a merchandising role, so I was really glad to gain more experience in this area.
In the afternoon I went on a floor walk of the beauty department and the bath shop with Arlette. Someone from the beauty team does a floor walk every day, which is crucial to the success of the department, and to sales figures. They analyse each brand’s sales figures every day, and look at which products are selling well, and which are not. They relate these figures to the sales associates, listen to any supplier problems they might be having, and keep an eye on the layout of the department. Arlette, Gina and Sarah have a really close relationship with the sales associates, which is important for sales figures and crucial to the success of the department.
This morning I started updating all the Liberty product codes and prices for Shu Uemura, as I was doing for Kiehls last week. This should make it easier for the beauty team to do the product orders, and to make sure that everything is ordered accurately.
In the afternoon I went along to the HR assessment day that I helped to organize during my first week at Liberty, whilst I was in the HR department. We had whittled down the number of applications through telephone screening, so about 10 people had been invited to the assessment centre. There were about two or three sales associate positions available in the scarf hall and in womenswear, so the applicants were all vying for those roles. They had to start by introducing themselves and by picking a Liberty product and trying to ‘sell’ it to the group in the most creative way possible. I have to say I was very glad not to be standing up there! Then all the applicants had 2 interviews with the floor managers and assistant managers of the departments they had applied for. I was very glad to see that two of the applicants that I had asked to come to the assessment centre were picked for roles!
I was off work yesterday, so today was the first day spent in the new Liberty offices. The buying and merchandising teams have moved to a building connected to the store, which is much more convenient.
Everyone in buying and merchandising had a meeting with Marco Capello, the CEO of Liberty, and I was very lucky to be able to join the meeting. Marco is an incredibly charismatic man, and is on first-name basis with all the team. He is very approachable – quite unusual for an ex-Managing Director of Merrill Lynch I would imagine! It was a fascinating meeting, and covered a range of topics from the direction that the shop is heading and expanding, to meeting new members of staff. A lot of discussion revolved around views of what the archetypal Liberty customer is like, their shopping needs and their spending patterns. I think the key to Liberty’s success is walking the line between maintaining their strong sense of history and heritage, whilst also becoming a cutting-edge fashion destination. It was a great meeting to be part of.
Ill with a stomach bug today :(
Today was moving day for the buying and merchandising department. They are moving from Great Marlborough Street to an office adjoining the Liberty store, which will be more convenient for them. So today involved packing tones of samples and beauty products, and we were even able to keep a few.
Looking forward to my final week with the beauty team, in their shiny new offices.
Today I was working on some beauty reorders, and updating the delivery schedule with the purchase order details. Everything has to arrive in the warehouse and ultimately the shop at the correct time, otherwise the team could lose out on valuable sales.
In the afternoon I was doing a clean-up job on the Liberty operating system. If anything has the wrong product code, incorrect price or colour it will end up on the product ticket, and also means that the beauty team cannot analyse sales figures correctly. By the end of the day I felt I knew every Kiehls product inside out - and also wanted to invest in a few!
We had an early meeting this morning with all the managers of the various brands stocked in the beauty hall. Sarah went through all the figures and weekly sales with the team, letting them know which brands had sold particularly well that week. I was really impressed with the camaraderie between the sales associates, as although they are all working for their individual brands, they are very loyal to Liberty. Everyone was in high spirits about the launch of the expanded beauty hall in June.
The set up of the beauty team in Liberty head office is slightly different to the set up of the Womenswear, Menswear and Home teams. In the other departments there is a separation between the merchandising and buying elements, and there are different people for each role, but in the beauty team there are three people who all do the buying and merchandising between them. This really appeals to me as I would love to get into merchandising, and as the merchandising roles within the beauty team are combined with buying elements, the job is more creative.
Today I was working through some beauty reorders, and raising purchase orders. This is a key part of the merchandising role, and you have to make sure you get all the details correct, otherwise they could end up with a shop floor of Shu Uemura eyeshadows in the wrong tone!
Today was the first day of my two- week stint with the beauty buying department (it took a while for my boyfriend to understand what ‘beauty buying’ is!). I have to admit I was slightly apprehensive. I like make up and potions as much as most girls but I’m certainly not an officianado when it comes to all things beauty.
I was taken for a floor walk around the Aladdin’s Cave that is the beauty department. They stock a vast array of make up, perfumes, creams and potions, and they are currently planning a huge expansion as the beauty department is doing so well – it is a very exciting time for the beauty team. I met all the staff on the shop floor, who are hugely knowledgeable and enthusiastic about their products. By the end of my first day I had greatly expanded my knowledge, and also left with a gorgeous candle and some nail vanish samples – result!
I was given the very arduous task this morning of photographing items in the store that cost around £800. Photographing beautiful items throughout the shop was a very difficult start to my day. Liberty runs a loyalty scheme whereby members of staff earn money when they introduce people to the company, who go on to be employed for over a year. They are in the midst of improving this scheme, so that staff members receive (a lot!) of Liberty vouchers when they recommend a friend who becomes employed by Liberty. My job was to photograph items in the store that employees would be able to buy if they successfully recommended a friend to the store. Mulberry Alexa Tiger Bag anyone?
I have really enjoyed my first week at Liberty, and have loved meeting all the HR team, who have been so kind and welcoming. I had no previous experience working in HR, so it has been really interesting to see how it all works, particularly in the retail industry. The employment market in the retail industry is just as saturated as in TV, where I was previously working. Hopefully this week in HR will help me with my retail job search in the future.
I spent the morning calling the applicants who appear to have suitable experience for the sales associate roles. They have a phone screening test before they are invited in for an interview and assessment centre day, from which the roles are filled. Luckily I don’t have much trouble in speaking to strangers, but if you were a wallflower you would probably find a career in HR rather challenging.
In the afternoon I helped organise a social event for new starters and staff who have been recently promoted. It’s a new idea, and a really positive one which should boost camaraderie and interaction between staff. I wrote a short article about it for the internal monthly magazine ‘The Liberty Loop’ and helped design a poster to advertise the event.
I spent most of the day looking through CVs and applicationsfor sales associate roles in the menswear and womenswear departments and thefamous scarf room. You have to be very brutal when going through all theapplications - I think working in HR will toughen me up a lot!
This morning began with looking through CVs for various sales associate roles. As Liberty is a luxury store with such a wonderful reputation, they require the highest standards of customer service. Therefore, candidates for sales associate roles ideally have experience working with luxury brands, but are mainly passionate about working for Liberty and they must demonstrate why they want to work in the store. I think this is something that makes Liberty unique, and maintains their strong brand identity.
In the afternoon, I joined three sales associates who had newly joined Liberty, for a customer services course. One exercise involved pairing up and hitting the shops of Covent Garden to experience customer service for ourselves. We judged a few stores on various aspects such as attentiveness of staff, cleanliness of changing rooms, presentation of staff etc. Suffice to say that our experiences were fairly disappointing. I’m sure the new joiners at Liberty will offer a much higher standard of customer service than the stores we visited (mentioning no names).
My first day at Liberty and I’m spending a week in HR. The team is based near all the beautiful cushions and lampshades in the homewares department - a lovely start to the working day.
This week I’ll mainly be shadowing Kelly, the HR assistant. We started by looking through CVs sent in through the Liberty website for a buying admin assistant role in head office. As you can imagine, they are inundated with CVs for such a coveted role. This would be my dream first role in retail, so it was fascinating to see what experience and skills they were looking for. Before getting ahead of myself, I have to get through this month first!
In the afternoon, I looked through CVs for the online administration position in the web team. I was given the job of telephoning the strongest applicants to see if they would make the next stage of interviews. I was slightly daunted by the responsibility of this task (on my first day!) but luckily most of them seemed suitable for the role, so I booked them in for interviews the following week.
Survived my first day!
Ispent most of the day looking through CVs and applications for sales associateroles in the menswear and womenswear departments and the famous scarf room. Youhave to be very brutal when going through all the applications - I thinkworking in HR will toughen me up a lot!