Q&A: Leanne Oddy, Ann Summers
Leanne Oddy is one of the delegates on this year’s Retail Mentoring Programme, run by Festival of Licensing, the month long virtual celebration of the global licensing industry which runs from 6-19 October. For a free pass and to access exclusive retailer-only content during the festival, please register at www.festivaloflicensing.com.
Can you tell us a bit about your background?
I’ve always been in fashion retail. My last role was managing all franchise partners for Topshop/Topman. Last year I moved to Ann Summers as Wholesale & Third-Party Commercial Manager, I look after all wholesale, marketplace, and licensing partnerships
Can you describe your current role, and where it sits within the organisation?
My role is to ensure that we maximise the potential of our strategic third-party relationships and continue to grow our reach to new customers.
Can you tell us what your company does?
At Ann Summers we are the celebratory voice of all women who want to be strong, fun, sexy, smart, and empowered. We have over 87% brand awareness but in case you don’t know us, we are the largest high street retailer of lingerie and sex toys in the UK and no brand speaks to more women on a daily basis about sex and wellness than us.
What’s special about your company? Is there a particular gap in the market you are trying to address?
Our brand truly champions female empowerment in all ways – our senior leadership team is 100% female – that makes for an inspiring environment and brand. We are constantly championing the things that matter to our customers, especially if they aren’t always the most spoken about subjects – for example, our Pleasure Positivity Project which totally faced into the taboo of the female orgasm. I’m also really proud of our My Viv range which aims to promote sexual wellness for all women – this brand started after an approach from Breast Cancer Now, they were recognising a lack of products designed to support women during and after cancer treatment. We worked hand in hand on the brand development with them – this expanded quickly into a range designed to support all women through all life stages and events.
What challenges are retailers facing in 2020 and where do you see UK retail in 2021?
Honestly, it’s impossible to say. Covid has thrown us all a massive curve ball and it’s hard to predict where we’ll be next week, let alone in 2021!
How will you address these challenges and turn them into successes?
Our focus is on remaining agile. This enables us to ensure we can react quickly to changing trading conditions.
On a personal note, what are the key challenges – and most rewarding aspects – of your role?
There’s always so much going on – that’s the answer to both! It’s often hard to juggle all the projects and partners I work with, but it’s also so rewarding when you see the sales orders come in or a project come to fruition that improves our efficiency or drives sales.
What advice would you give someone interested in a career in retail?
I think you have to be a people person – in my area and most areas of retail that I’ve experienced you cannot work in silo and have to want to bring people together to achieve your goals – it’s rare that anything only ever involves you and your direct team. It’s also important to want to learn constantly as the environment changes rapidly and you need to be willing to learn from colleagues about their role, expertise, and challenges.
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