Interview: Thomas Merrigan of Browns
Ahead of his speaking slot at Retail Bulletin’s HR Summit on 8 October, here Natalie Bruins interviews Thomas Merrigan, Learning & Development Manager at Browns.
Tell us about your role at Browns
I’m responsible for Learning & Development at Browns, delivering a culture of learning, facilitating future growth and ultimately developing an offer to attract the best talent in the industry. Together with my team we provide training to our store teams to offer the best customer experience and our head office and management teams with essential skills to keep them at the top of their game.
That sounds like a great challenge. What’s the secret to success in rolling L&D programmes out?
The key here at Browns is that we put the learner first. We are a fast-moving business with new people and new investments all the time. To keep up with these changes and be successful, we have developed an accessible multichannel learning offer. Our buyers, for example, are often on the road and need digital access to content. We work cross-functionally and really focus on communication. We think like a marketing operation; our channels are highly engaging, and we use internal influencers to support our outreach and meet the learners where they are rather than just trying to drive traffic to an LMS.
Tell us about Browns and how you came to join them
Browns is one of the world’s most iconic fashion retailers, known for bringing new talent into the industry from across the world. With a creative and pioneering spirit, Browns are always on the search for what’s next and what’s cool. I wanted to work for a growing brand that did it differently, that was accessible, conscious and inclusive.
Farfetch (who bought and invested in Browns in 2015) are also known for their pioneering approach and have since invested in Store of the Future and Augmented Retail. We have developed a range of services and technologies to progress innovation in the luxury industry. This makes Browns a very appealing place to work. I started out my career working for Apple who went through humongous growth in the time I was lucky enough to be there. At Apple I found my “calling” so to speak. I was seconded into a learning role for the team based in Cupertino and went on to work on learning solutions that could really influence and drive growth first at Apple and later for Harvey Nichols.
Within the team at Browns, it’s a constant buzz. We are good at communications internally and celebrate success and gratitude on a weekly basis in our popular ‘Friday Thank You’s’.
And what’s next?
We are really focused on taking learning to the next level. We will be building our platform out to revolutionise development plans in a relevant and modern way, bringing learning to life, using smart technology where we can. With already over 20 different modules in our managers learning offer, and around 15% of our entire organisation this year going through our first ever in-house Management Development Programme. We want to nurture and hire internal talent where we can, growing our people to be future industry leaders.
We recently announced a new flagship store opening next year, coinciding with our 50th anniversary. It’s an exciting time for us. The store will open in 2020 on Brook Street and will feature revolutionary Store of the Future technology. In retail, you can’t stand still. Our new store will offer an immersive ‘multi-sensory’ experience; an entire floor for styling advice, wardrobing, a fashion concierge; and, a café situated in a beautiful spacious courtyard.
Delegates signing up by 7 August qualify for a 50% discount on the conference price, which means they can attend for just £125. Use the discount code RETAILER50 when booking.
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