Progressing your Retail Merchandising career outside London where the cost of living is lower, may seem like pie in the sky to most Londoners, but there is a growing number of retailers based outside of the capital with opportunities for talented merchandising professionals. Meaning, it is now possible to make the move and carve out a career for yourself, amongst a growing hub of well known high street and online brands.
Having set up a Buying and Merchandising desk in Manchester, that was specifically for our clients based outside of the South 14 years ago, I have seen the opportunities for Merchandising professionals grow significantly in these locations, as well as seeing lots of change in the types of retailers based in these areas. No longer the home of old school mail order companies and bargain basement discount retailers, the Northern and Midlands market is now awash with some of the most successful names in UK retailing.
From large retailers such as Next, Shop Direct, Bonmarche, JD Sports and Matalan to the Midlands hub of grocery fashion at Sainsbury’s TU, George at Asda and Morrisons Nutmeg. However notable is the rise of the young fast fashion E-commerce and multi channel retailers in the North West. Boohoo, Nasty Gal and prettylittlething.com are thriving alongside the multi channel success story that is Missguided, as well as young up and coming brands inthestyle, Isswitfirst.com and Brand Attic to name a few, and all of these are based in Manchester where Merchandisers can enjoy the benefits of city or fashionable suburban living at a fraction of the cost of London.
Whilst there is a difference between salaries in the capital and those in the North and Midlands the gap is closing as employers realise that they have to compete to attract the right talent. For example retailers such as Next offer packages to rival any London based retailer, as well as other benefits such as a onsite nursery, heavily subsidised cafe’s restaurant and coffee shop on site and, most importantly, a first class staff development programme that keep staff challenged and progressing, enabling Next to retain their talent for longer than many London based UK high street retailers.
And so, as someone who has lived in London, Manchester and Liverpool, and loved what all 3 cities had to offer, it begs the question: why isn’t everyone swopping the expense and overcrowding of London for the space and low cost of living we have in the North? Well let’s be honest, London is one of the best cities in the world and my 20 something self had a ball living and working in such a great city, and with friends still there occasionally I do miss the buzz of London. However in 2017 buying a house and bringing up kids in the capital is not easy even for those on a senior Merchandiser or head of Merchandising salary. So the promise of lower house prices, more space, access to more affordable childcare and the best of both worlds (City and country) within easy reach of a Northern city becomes very attractive at a certain point in your life, whether it be buying a house, starting a family or simply wanting to spend more time in the great outdoors.
If you’re thinking of making the move but are unsure then get in touch. I can offer you advice on the market, specific retailers and locations that would suit your lifestyle to help you make an informed decision about your professional career, and the work life balance offered outside of our busy, and expensive capital city.
If you would like to have an informal discussion, please contact Nadine Tipping here about the roles we are currently working on.