The race to secure top talent is fierce in many sectors, with candidate short markets only adding to the challenges and opportunities which new technologies and processes are bringing to the space. This is nowhere more apparent than in the fashion sector. Technological advances mean that customer behaviour is fundamentally changing as the availability of data and information is affording the consumer newfound power. However, fashion retailers are also transforming and meeting these challenges head on. This all means that the talent landscape in the sector is evolving; job functions are undergoing shifts in required skill sets and demands for new skills are outweighing the supply of talent. The attraction and retention of the best people can be a battle ground.
But what does this mean for salaries within the fashion sector? Here at Michael Page Retail and Fashion we partnered with Drapers to conduct a salary survey, investigating pay levels in key functions across the industry, from buying and merchandising to retail operations and technical skills.
Buying and merchandising
The role of the merchandiser is increasingly data driven as technology delivers more information about the customer than ever before. Greater frequency of product drops, coupled with shoppers who want to buy now to wear tonight, makes getting the right stock into the right store at the right time, a delicate balancing act.
Our research revealed the average salary in merchandising sits at £44,000, with the largest proportion of respondents (34%) reporting that their wage fell into the £20,000 - £34,999 bracket. Only those at the very top of the profession took home more than five figures.
Often perceived as one of the retail industry’s most glamorous roles, the position of buyer always comes with strong competition for the best roles. However, this is also a rapidly changing field, in which a wide range of skills are necessary for success. A mix of creativity with efficiency and an understanding of margins is essential.
Talented buyers can earn good wages with almost a fifth (19%) of buyers surveyed falling into the £50,000 - £74,999 bracket. This is also a field largely dominated by women. Close to 90% of respondents were female, a far higher percentage than in other fashion retail roles.
The type of role which fits into the retail operations area can be very diverse. Everything from sales assistant to operations managers feature and as a result salaries in this field can vary dramatically. Salaries in this area have traditionally lagged behind the rest of this industry: sales assistants are typically not paid very much compared to entry level employees in other areas of retail.
Many larger retailers have restructured their store teams to save operational costs, often meaning that more is being asked of other staff for little or no additional reward. It is not until operations professionals reach the management level that they begin to see their pay reach parity with industry averages. Store managers earn, on average, £33,000.
Once at risk of vanishing, the UK manufacturing sector is enjoying something of a resurgence as the rising costs of overseas production, coupled with the rising need for flexible supply chains, reignites interest in domestic sourcing. New Look and Asos are among those taking a serious look at producing more in the UK, meaning that specialist technical skills are back in demand.
Pattern cutter, machinists and seamstresses, are all in reasonable demand and can earn an average of £27,000. Although there are well-paid opportunities in technical roles, salaries in this field tend to be lower than in other areas. The average salary for a head of technical across the UK is £59,000.
Design is another extremely popular sector of the fashion industry – one in which success requires a balance of a number of different skills, as well as combining creativity and commercial know-how. Gone are the days when a designer can sit behind a desk and sketch. Organisations are seeking big personalities, who can work with buyers to drive the business forward.
At entry level an assistant buyer can expect to earn £22,000 in or outside of London. At designer level that climbs to £29,000 and by senior level £38,000. This is one area where working in London makes a difference, where senior designers can earn up to 30% more than those in other parts of the UK.
Click here to view the entire salary survey in full or to discuss recruitment into the sector contact Dave Mann, Director Michael Page Retail and Fashion.
T: 0207 269 2562