How I got here - Sarah Hadded
Published: 17 Feb 2015 By Anna Hepton
What does your typical week involve?
It kicks off with a morning meeting at our flagship store on Regent Street where my team and I sit down to discuss business from the previous week. We analyse everything from visual and commercial opportunities, to customer feedback and store aesthetics. Tuesday is an opportunity for me to get to the real crux of the business and I begin forward planning for the week ahead. Any window fits, stock flows or promotions that we’ve given the go ahead, I ensure they’re implemented. I’m then tasked with communicating this to the rest of the fleet, which includes our seven London stores and two stores in Bath and Manchester. On Wednesday I’m out in the field with my team and by Friday it is strategy-setting time, when we plan the visual merchandising for our womenswear and menswear departments roughly two months in advance.
Which task are you most looking forward to today?
I’m spending the morning in our flagship store on Regent Street. This part of my job is what I enjoy most as it gives me a chance to interact with customers and store managers one to one. I love seeing what we’ve discussed earlier in the week come to life.
Which task do you wish you could postpone?
Admin. Every area manager who has worked their way up through the ranks and has been on the shop floor for a period of time will agree with me on this one.
What are the three defining moments in your career?
The first would have to be when I started out in retail in 2001. I joined the Arcadia graduate management scheme. This was a year-long programme that gave me the opportunity to gain an understanding of how a fashion retail business is run and develop my technical, commercial and leadership skills. The course was designed to fast-track you from deputy manager to store manager and was divided into different modules focusing on retail management, all completed on the job.
My second defining moment was in 2009 when I made the step up from store manager at Barratts Westfield London to south coast area manager at Saxone Shoes. It was particularly interesting to see how different footwear retailers adapt their buying structures based on the specific needs of their customers.
Another milestone in my career actually happened in Las Vegas last year. I was presented with the Global Banana Republic Commitment to Excellence award by Roy Hunt, senior vice president of global stores. To be recognised in front of more than 1,000 colleagues for my operational excellence, team commitment and sales increases is a moment I’ll never forget.
What has been your career highlight?
The last two years have been a phenomenal journey for me. I was given the opportunity to work for a global brand as head of its flagship store during its strategic European expansion. I’ve been able to witness first-hand the incredible growth not only of the store but of the team and product.
How do you see your career progressing?
I was promoted in August, so right now I just want to enjoy my new role. As a business, this is a really exciting time for us. Marissa Webb has recently been appointed global creative director. She’s inspired our design team to create a much more contemporary and elevated look – clothes that people really want to wear, including myself.
As Banana Republic is an American company would you ever consider working in the US?
I guess the beauty of working for a global company is that it provides me with this option. Right now I feel very content with my job. My family and friends are all based here in the UK, but who knows, if the right opportunity arose it would be difficult to turn down.
Who is your mentor?
I have two: Sherry Zander, our EU general manager, and Rebecca Bragginton, the EU regional director. They drive and motivate me not only by their passion and commitment to their individual roles and the business, but their ability to continuously share their knowledge and experiences.
What are the best pieces of advice they’ve given you?
Sherry says to set your standards as world-class and Rebecca has always advised me never to compromise.
What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?
In the words of Don Fisher, founder of Gap, “Never play a game you won’t win”.
If you could work in another area of fashion what would it be?
Buying. I would love to buy for a premium womenswear brand. At the start of the year I was incredibly lucky to be able to travel to San Francisco with our buying team. I worked alongside them editing our holiday collection and it left me thinking, ‘Maybe in another life…’
Salaries for this position range from £50,000 to £60,000 (estimate provided by CVUK)