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Ben Alba

I started my career on the graduate scheme at Next working in the merchandising function across a number of product categories. Next gave me an excellent grounding in retail, learning what it takes to be successful in such a competitive market place.

It really has been fantastic to be involved in retail, the rise of digital driving brands to continually adapt and evolve to meet the changing needs of the consumer. Building an infrastructure that is agile enough to meet and exceed customer expectations is crucial and I have been fortunate enough to lead a number of multi-channel strategies designed to do just that.

Following Next, I spent time working in garment manufacturing, learning and understanding the industry from a different perspective. The knowledge I gained proved invaluable when stepping back into retail some years later. Again, the need to adapt quickly became apparent and saw me lead the business in moving its manufacturing operations off shore to remain competitive.  I am proud to say that some years later, the business is still supplying many of the high street’s best known brands from those same facilities.

My return to retail saw me working for George Davies as he launched his per una womenswear brand in Marks & Spencer stores across the UK. I loved every minute of my time with George and I could not have wished for a better teacher. George was a great advocate of his people learning and understanding the importance of every aspect of the value chain; as a result, I enjoyed a number of different roles within the business although never straying too far from my merchandising roots.

My last role, before stepping into consulting, was as Head of International Merchandising for George at ASDA Walmart. I was recruited into the business in 2011 as the brand sought to grow its international presence.

I led the merchandising team responsible for the supply of product to international markets through Walmart stores in Japan; China; Canada; Chile and the United States and was privileged to have been part of a team that launched the first ever standalone George franchise stores across Europe; the Middle East & Asia.

Moving product direct to market from seven origins around the world, ensuring that stock arrived on time and fully compliant with market legislation, was no mean feat and a huge learning experience. Whilst there were many challenges along the way, I’m pleased to say that with perseverance and the support of a great team, we overcame them!

I am very excited to be working with Simon and the Hatmill team in this next chapter of my career. I am naturally curious by nature and love learning; I am hoping that along with my industry experience, this makes me well suited to the world of consulting!