25 July, 2016

From one style icon to another

When it comes to fashion retailing, Allie has seen more than most. Before she joined M&S, she spent 12 years with Topshop/Topman, excelling in roles ranging from brand management to store management and operations. But she had a long-standing interest in working for M&S... 

“M&S had always been a company I aspired to work for,” she explains. “And after I made a connection on Linkedln, I had the chance to learn more about the company and its focus on fashion and design. And from that, I had the opportunity to apply to work here.”

Allie says the key to success in her role is communication. 

“What I love most about my job is spending time with my customers and my team. I never miss an opportunity to listen to feedback and suggestions from customers as they really influence my thinking. And my team members come up with some amazing ideas, too, which inspire me to try new things. That’s not to say I don’t wander down the high street and read a lot of blogs and magazines because I’ve a passion for fashion, but a lot of it is about people.”

It was customer feedback that certainly inspired Allie’s involvement in our Love Sparks week. This week was designed to re energise Sparks in store, we focused on team and customer communication. This varied from fun team briefs to open evenings in our cafés to promote Sparks.

“The week created a huge amount of excitement in stores and we rolled it out across the Merseyside Cheshire and North Wales region. It was a lot of fun but it also had a big impact on bottom-line performance. I’m proud to say that every store on my patch increased their Sparks transactions. That’s got to be my biggest achievement at M&S.”

Allie joined us 12 months ago, but she’s already experienced two different roles in the same store. 

“In April 2016, I became service rep for our Merseyside region. This role really excites me as there is nothing more important than our customers. I’ve been able to engage the region on key activities and support new business rollouts such as the new service portal.”

Customers are a recurring theme of Allie’s story…

“I have a pretty full ‘to do’ list every day. How I cope with that is to start with my customer hat on first and work backwards from there. Whatever the day brings, I make sure a significant part of it is spent with customers.”

You might think that, bearing in mind her background, there was nothing more for Allie to learn about fashion retailing, but she’s quick to counter that suggestion.

“I learn new things every day! I had a fantastic induction and I enjoy attending workshops and visiting different stores to learn from other people – there’s a lot of experience you can tap into. And regular reviews and personal development planning sessions have kept my career on track. I love the pace of the job and see every challenge as an opportunity. It makes me more creative and strive even harder to make a difference.”

When she’s away from work, Allie’s seriously into fitness and goes to the gym three times a week, but she does admit to one weakness:
“The M&S salted caramel profiteroles are to die for.”

Allie is thriving here at M&S – and if you’re a similarly commercially-focused manager working in fashion retail, so could you. 

Inside M&S