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L4 Fast Track Buying and Merchandising

   •  Over 90% of former FRA students go on to  full time employment or further studies

   •  Huge industry demand for Merchandisers

   •  Includes unrivalled three work placement with a high street fashion brand

   •  Excellent specialist industry tutors

   •  Top reputation for producing students that are industry ready

This 22 week programme delivered two days per week is intended for students who wish to gain an entry level position in Buying or Merchandising. The course is ideal for anyone who wishes to combine a part-time job with a national recognised qualification. The diploma offers a unique programme providing you with the opportunity to gain or build on previous experience to establish your future career aspirations.

Buyers and Merchandising teams work closely together to maximise profit and ensure that stock is exciting, contemporary and sells well in a competitive market.  You will balance practical and creative skills with theoretical studies to include communication, negotiation and presentation alongside supply chain, marketing and external factors which influence the development of a commercial product range.

You will spend three weeks working within a retail environment give you exposure and experience of the work place and gain a greater understanding of the real time challenges currently facing the industry.

Find out about one of our student's placement at Marks and Spencer here.

This course is taught by industry experts from both the high street and branded environment.

Some of the key subjects covered include customer profiling and consumer behaviour, trend history and development, turning trends into commercial range plans, garment technology, use of fabrics, costing and sourcing, manufacturing regions and critical path management. You will also study how Buyers respond to the ever changing fast pace of both in store and online fashion. You will have access to excellent fashion and trend resources and websites including industry sites such as WSGN.

Merchandising is a key unit and students will learn how to interpret data and use excel to Industry standard. The FRA work with a wide range of retailers on  Industry projects to give you the opportunity to  interact with today’s fashion Buyers and Merchandisers and increase your network of contacts, at the same time as working on a specific fashion retail brief.

You will be invited to attend a range of masterclasses from some of retails biggest names. Previous speakers have included ASOS; Chloe Miles – Fashion Blogger; Zalando; FRA Alumni Sorcha Kelly, Junior Merchandiser - Accessories at NET-A-PORTER; TK Maxx & New Look. During these sessions held in our state of the art lecture theatre, fashion retail experts advise and inform about a range of subjects affecting the industry with an interactive Q&A session at the end to enable students to have their say.

Your day may include researching current trends using industry websites such as WGSN and Style sight in order to put together mood boards, to working with current product to develop ranges for different customer profiles.

In industry your week will start will with Monday morning trading analysis; here you will study excel and merchandising to prepare you for this exciting part of the job.

You could be out comp shopping on the high street in order to prepare a report of recommendations for an industry head office team or listening to exciting industry speakers to inspire your journey towards becoming a BAA or MAA.

This course includes a three week work placement at a high street brand aimed at developing on the job skills to enable graduates to go straight into the workplace with unrivalled hands on experience.

This year's B&M students were asked to develop a new concept for Lipsy and design a 20 piece capsule collection, taking into consideration lead time and costings.

They also had to consider how they would promote and launch the collection. At the end of the project they presented their results to the Lipsy Senior Management Team and the winning students were offered work placement opportunities.

The course is now into its 2nd year and has an excellent track record of getting students into Junior Buying/Merchandising and related jobs including Sourcing and Supply Chain. Merchandisers are in huge demand and some students will find that they may have a natural aptitude for analysis and enter into Allocation or MAA roles.

On completion of this course the roles open to you include:

  • Buying Admin Assistant (BAA)
  • Merchandising Admin Assistant (MAA)
  • Allocator
  • Buyer’s Slerk
  • Sourcing & Supply Chain Assistant
  • Trend Research and Forecasting Agents

Awarding Body: University Arts London

Age Requirement: 19+

Enrolment: W/C 26th February 2018

Start date: 5th March 2018

End date: W/E 30th July 2018

Course duration: 22 weeks, two days per week

Entry Criteria: 1 A-Level or the equivalent grade C or above and 5 GCSE’s grade 4/5-9 including Maths and English or 5 GCSE's A*-C grade including Maths and English, or a BTEC National Diploma or NVQ level 3, or a one year one year foundation diploma in Art and Design plus 5 GCSE’s grade 4/5-9 including Maths and English or 5 GCSE's A*-C grade including Maths and English. Please provide us with a NARIC Statement of Comparability, if you have any non-UK qualifications. We will not be able to process your application without this information.

Applicant Guidance:  Applicants should show an interest in fashion and retail high street trends and have an aptitude for Maths and English.

Interview: Interviews take place at The Fashion Retail Academy, or online by Skype or Facetime (in exceptional circumstances). If successful, you will usually receive an offer by post within two weeks of your interview.

Fees: If you are 16-18 as of 31st August in the academic year of which your course starts and are a UK resident you will be eligible for full fee remission and do not have to pay any tuition fees.

If you are 19 or over at the start of your course your fees are £4220 per annum. For a full list of course fees please visit our Fees page. Advanced Learning Loans will be available for anyone aged 19 or over. Click this link to find out more about course fees.

Disclaimer on fees: Tuition fees are subject to change - the fees due are effective at enrolment.


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Meet The Tutor

Meet The Tutor

Debbie Taylor, L4 Buying & Merchandising Tutor.

Debbie joined Selfridges as a graduate trainee where she spent 2 years working across all levels of head office before finding her true vocation in Fashion Buying. Over a career spanning 20 years she travelled the world in pursuit of new brands and concepts, working with some of the world’s most famous designers and attending the RTW shows. She has worked across Accessories, Ladies Contemporary and Designer and childrenswear. Her specialities are Brand Buying and Trend development. In 2000 she was awarded the Drapers Record Fashion Buyer of the year and in 2015 the FRA Teacher of the Year Award.



Elise Stewart, Graduated 2015, works at River Island.

"The FRA has helped me by providing me with exciting opportunities such as meeting some of the key people within fashion retail, work placements and participating in industry projects."



Callie Walters, Graduated 2015, works at Topshop.

"The FRA introduced me to a range of exciting opportunities such as work placements, industry projects and competitions linked to high-profile retailers throughout the year. This challenged me to think professionally and offered the chance to work with the companies I aspire to."

Meet the Merchandiser

Meet the Merchandiser

Kellie Fulton, Merchandising Director, Links of London.


"As Merchandising Director every day is different. I look after three brands so I'm constantly having to change my brand hat. I lead a large team and love developing them and seeing them progress as we work together to meet the company' goals. I communicate with people around the world from UK to Athens, New York and Hong Kong the role could definitely be 24 hours! The environment is always changing, there is never a dull moment, and I really thrive off the dynamic role I have."

Meet the Buying Manager

Meet the Buying Manager

Paul Phipps, Buying Manager, River Island


"Being a Buying Manager is challenging every day yet a truly fantastic and rewarding experience. Leading and inspiring teams to deliver the overall business strategy and ensuring we are consistently exceeding our customers’ product expectations is paramount.


Travelling the world to see new and existing suppliers, reviewing our international stores and understanding new markets is a great part of the role. We live in a international world and understanding the global market is key to personal and business success."

Meet the Tutor

Meet the Tutor

Kim Spencer-Pell, Merchandising Tutor


"I have worked for over 33 years in fashion retail with experience in a variety of retailers from Harrods , House of Fraser , Dorothy Perkins , Pilot to ASOS and Miss Selfridge .
Working as a Merchandise Director for over 17 years I have wide ranging experience to share with students and have particular interest in strategy and planning .
I am as excited by fashion retail now as when I started in the industry and consider it a privilege to inspire new talent entering the industry."

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