Buying and Merchandising Director, Lakeland
Samm Swain has been with Lakeland for nine years and was promoted to her current role as buying and merchandise director in 2017. After previous positions at several other significant retail operations, she has 25 years of experience in buying and merchandising, primarily in home and housewares categories, specifically kitchenware and cookshop.
Get Acquainted with Lakeland
Known for more than 50 years, Lakeland is the UK’s largest specialty kitchenware and home wares retailer. Lakeland operates 68 stores across the UK: 57 in England, two in Wales, two in Northern Ireland and seven in Scotland. Stores are in varied locations including primary business districts and shopping malls. Physical stores deliver 64% of sales; website 28% and print catalogues draw 8% of revenue.
Lakeland is known for its customer service, quality products and innovation. Stores and product assortments are selected to solve problems of everyday living and to inspire shopper delight and discovery. Branded products represent more than half of the items sold in ten categories: Cooking, Baking, Cleaning, Dining, Food, Home Décor, Kitchen Electrics, Laundry, Seasonal and Storage/Organization, and private label items approach 48% of the total.
Sourcing and Buying Process
Lakeland maintains offices in Hong Kong and Shanghai to directly import one-third of its items. In 2017, Lakeland purchased products from 30 countries. Products from the U.S. and Canada represent less than 2% of the total. Buyers visit major European and Asian trade shows as well as the International Home + Housewares Show.
Lakeland’s five-step buying process begins with department strategy, rolling range analysis and discussion, sourcing trips and meetings that lead to range selection.
Lakeland buyers seek quality, innovation, exclusivity, extraordinary, problem-solving items that provide great value at a best price point and give purchasers a reason to tell about to their friends. Buyers consider who the target customers are for the product, what competing products are currently available, how this new product is unique, how it performs and if the color and materials are right.
Lakeland treats its vendors well and expects the same in return. Suppliers should expect that buyers will ask more questions, will have high expectations and will want to know the details about suppliers’ products. Lakeland does not ask for samples until they see quotes. It asks that vendors communicate frequently and support the retailer with stock, content and information to meet the retailer’s multi-channel requirements.
Lakeland is always focused on their customer and invites ideas from inventors, customers, store teams, designers and suppliers to learn about new, inventive and extraordinary products!
Swain showed examples of recent advertising and promotional campaigns and took questions about product displays and assortments.