An interview with a former employee at Selfridges, Nigel Maiwnaring.  

Which departments did you work in?

There were a lot! I started off as Saturday staff in the pen department, before moving to the magazine department. As a supervisor, I worked in the Christmas hall and bridal registry departments. Then I was promoted to ladies’ designer and accessories in the buying office.  

Did you have a favourite?

I would say my favourite department was ladies’ accessories since I was promoted to a buyer. Also, I was in charge of the biggest hosiery department in the country.

What was it like working at one of the world’s most famous department stores?

It was the same as any other job, some days were good and others were boring. When I joined, of course Selfridges had a reputation but it wasn’t world leading. This changed during my time, I was part of the team that gave Selfridges a global reputation.

Did you meet any celebrities?

Yes, frequently, on the shop the floor.

What was the worst part of your job?

Like other jobs in retail, having to work weekends and extra hours. Working as a fashion buyer is much less glamourous than people think.

What was the best part of your job?

As a buyer, knowing something you’ve discovered and bought sells really well. There’s fierce competition among the different shop departments, it’s great to know yours is doing better than the others.

What did your job as a buyer entail?

Sourcing a product, then bringing it in at an accurate price that will make a profit and sell. You’re responsible for the presentation of the shop floor and sell through and sales- so that you don’t run out of stock. You’ve got to constantly assess the price for sale and replace old stock with new season products coming in. The bigger departments have over 160 suppliers, even more basic items like gloves had 14 different suppliers. A lot of the products Selfridges sells is one-off high fashion, meaning that you can only successfully sell it for a limited season. When I left, my department had a turnover of 60 million pounds, you’re working with a lot of money!

By Caitlin Mainwaring.