Reviewing the Commercial Operating Model for a Middle Eastern Fashion Retailer

We were asked to use our deep expertise in Buying, Merchandising, Planning and Commercial functions to review the planning processes, systems and organisational structure at a Middle Eastern fashion multiple retailer.

Reviewing the Commercial Operating Model for a Middle Eastern Fashion Retailer

A first glance summary for the Commercial Operating Model Review Case Study. Industry: Fashion Retail, Location: The Middle East and Services; Retail Consulting - Buying, Merchandising PLanning & Commercial


The Challenge Cropped photo of a firm, yellow building foundation with a bright blue sky behind and the words "The business needed to build a firm base from which they could expand“

The retailer was performing well but did not feel that they were working in the most efficient way possible.

Many of the leadership team had grown with the brand and had deep understanding of the customer, the market and the buying function but recognised that the business was now much more complex and that they did not have enough expertise in Merchandise Planning.

They wanted to ensure they were building a firm base from which they could expand. 

Our Approach 

The consultant who completed the review has extensive experience both from a 20-year operational career in Merchandise Planning and 10-years in consultancy across change and system programmes.

Having completed this type of review many times we find there are a mix of common themes and challenges specific to each client. 

We used a number of research methods to assess the current situation: 

  • Reviewed a set of requested documents from the retailer (in this case, the retailer was able to provide the majority, but a lack of documentation can be just as revealing)
  • Spent time on site 
    • Observed meetings as they happened
    • Interviewed a broad section of the Buying and Merchandising teams – from CEO to the most junior team
    • Interviewed the function leaders who interact with B&M – Finance, Marketing, HR, L&D, eCommerce
  • Remote interaction 
    • Again observed meetings as they happened
    • Dived deeper on specific topics with team members
  • Utilised experience, standard models and network to assess what was working well and where there were opportunities to develop, and made a set of actionable recommendations

We checked in with the project sponsor as the assessment was forming to ensure it was factually correct and to share developing impressions so that themes could be challenged and socialised. 


The Results (Outputs and Outcomes)

We finalised a summary presentation to playback findings, initially to the project sponsor to ensure alignment, ensure “hot topics” were treated appropriately, and to enable socialisation of messages. 

We then spent the day on-site with the client, presenting the output to the CEO and senior leadership team (SLT) in an interactive session, enabling the client to fully understand the assessment and align on next steps. 

Most of the feedback we shared were themes that the business was aware of to some extent, but working with First Friday meant that the client was able to benchmark against other retailers and get under the skin of the key priorities across people, process and systems.  

Image of client testimonial: “There were some tough messages in there, but you steered us through them really well” and “Presentation was excellent, surfacing everything we wanted & adding clarity to our perceptions”

Image of client testimonial: “Here we are scared of consultants because they make a mess, but the CEO was delighted we brought you in, your experience means the playback had great credibility”

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