Pulling out all the stops to satisfy all

What is the most interesting aspect of your job?

Satisfying customers' diverse needs is my highest priority. Being a Woolies employee, the products I select also have to be of fantastic quality, innovative and offered at great-value prices.

Have you always been involved in fashion? How did you get into this field?

I have been with Woolworths for 13 years. I started as a trainee manager in stores, then worked my way up to head office as a trainee buyer.

Are Woolworth's clothing ranges all manufactured locally? Do you use local fabrics and manufacturers?

Woolworths passionately supports local suppliers.

The majority of the clothes in my department are made locally. We use a combination of local and imported fabrics.

Woolworths often has ranges from well-known South African designers. Who is the best designer you have worked with and why?

I have worked with all the local designers in our South African designers' range and each one brings a different perspective and interpretation of fashion to the business.

Which is your favourite season to buy for?

A buyer cannot afford a favourite season. I enjoy buying for all seasons.

Do you keep track of international trends and incorporate those into your collections for Woolworths?

Yes. Being aware of international trends is key, but understanding your market is more important than "what is the latest trend".

Some trends work for the South African market and some don't.

What item of clothing has been the most popular ever in terms of sales?

Customers love our exclusive new ranges Country Road, Twist and Studio.w. As far as trends go, the latest trend in women's wear is femininity.

Anything feminine, such as lace and ruffles, works well at the moment.

Does your own taste come into play when you buy or are you dictated to by trends and what is fashionable at the moment?

What influences me in buying is my understanding of the Woolworths customer and what she likes.

Do you have to travel as part of your job?

Absolutely. We're very fortunate.

What is the most exciting place you have been to on a working trip?

I love travelling, so I can't really choose one trip.

What does Woolworths do with items that have not been sold, even after sales?

The full-priced merchandise will go on sale and then the stock will be cleared by applying a further reduction percentage.

After that surplus clothing is often donated to charity.

What kind of training goes into your selection of the clothes for Woolworths collections?

Trainee buyers attend various modules on buying - from fabric to make-up of the garments to store distribution.

Tell us about your favourite fashion moment.

Being able to wear what I want without trends dictating what I should look like.