A-Z Of Employers: Next

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The Independent Online

What does it do?

Founded in the early 1980s by George Davies (who went on to ASDA and is now with M&S), Next quickly became a familiar site on most town's main shopping streets, offering clothes appealing to twentysomethings and upwards. Who knows how many interview suits or first job outfits have been chosen from the Next rails. Next began with women's clothing in just 70 shops in 1982, then introduced menswear in another 50 two years later. Accessories and home furnishings were added soon after. The Next Directory innovation in 1988 introduced home shopping to a new wave of customers, and now, of course, online business accounts for a big chunk of sales. The number of stores now stands at 440, putting Next very near to the top of the high street league table. Its success has been recognised by a collection of awards from the fashion and retail trade, chief among them the retailer of the decade title from Retail Week magazine in the 1990s.

Vital statistics:

Overall Next employs 45,000 staff in the UK, and generates an annual turnover of £2.8bn.

The office:

Since it was founded, Next's headquarters have been in Enderby, near the junction of the M1 and M69 in Leicestershire.

Is this you?

Every year about 60 trainees are taken, across four roles: buying, merchandising, design and technology, although most are in the first two categories. You'll need a fashion or business management degree and it also helps if you've worked in a Next or similar shop.

The recruitment process:

Go to the careers section of the company website, www.next.co.uk, for an application form, and try taking the online test, to check how much your understanding of the brand matches Next's own idea. The selection procedure involves online verbal and numerical tests, followed by a phone interview and, for some, an assessment centre day. This includes three job specific tasks, often involving work with clothes, and interpreting statistics related to the job. All recruits are based at head office and positions are geared towards long-term careers. Training lasts up to 18 months, and is a mix of courses, workshops and on-the-job experience. Progress is reviewed regularly by line managers and human resources. The higher echelons of Next's management structure are littered with former trainees.

Top dollar?

Trainees start on £17,000 plus a number of benefits, including a share scheme, pension and staff discount on Next products.

Beam me up Scotty?

Within five or six years of joining, you could be a buyer or merchandiser in your own right, a role opening up the possibility of domestic and international travel.

Who's the boss?

The CEO since 2001 has been Simon Wolfson, who took over from his father Lord Wolfson, former close confidant of Margaret Thatcher.

Little known fact:

Twenty-four years is a long time in the rag trade. Designs from Next's first collection in 1982 have already found their way into an archive kept by Leicestershire's Museums Service.

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