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retail buying and merchandising

AIS Retail Buying & Merchandising service

From merchandising, sales reporting and analytics, to buying, and supplier relationship management, as an AIS Member you can benefit from a one-stop shop of retail industry expertise across home and fashion - a bespoke service tailored to you.

What is retail buying and merchandising?

Buying and merchandising are vital roles in retail; while the former covers the decision making process of what products to sell and where to source them from, the latter is the system that manages inventory and controls stock holding.

Across fashion and homeware, the AIS Retail Buying & Merchandising service can support all your business needs.

The AIS retail buying and merchandising solution

AIS brings together industry best practice across merchandising and budget management for today’s fashion and homeware retailers. With our AIS tool kit and using data you provide, we can support you with annual planning, budgeting, and trading strategy, as well as embedding strong principles to drive success, and improve margins and profitability through analysis, performance review, phasing, and forecasting.

Meet the Retail Buying and Merchandise team

Meet our expert team

James Crabtree
James Crabtree
Head of Fashion

With a background in fashion wholesale, James started his career at AIS in 2002 where he progressed from Buyer, through to Product Developer to Head of Fashion in 2021.

Rachel Breen
Rachel Breen
Head of Home

With over 20 years of homewares buying experience and having previously held Buying Manager roles at Next, Sainsburys, and Debenhams, Rachel joined AIS to head up the Homewares Division in 2016.

Belinda Stuart
Belinda Stuart
Senior Womenswear Buyer First Avenue & Brands

Holding previous Fashion Buyer roles at Harrods and Allders, Belinda joined AIS in 1993 and has been working in her current position of Senior Buyer for more than 10 years.

Hilary Walbancke
Hilary Walbancke
Linens, Soft Furnishings and Home Gift Selector

Hilary joined AIS in 2007 as Selector on linens and soft furnishings and was previously employed in buying roles at Beatties Department Store group and House of Fraser for 15 years.

Steve Smart
Steve Smart
Senior Retail Co-ordinator

With a strong background in department store and bed store buying and retail management, Steve provides our RBM Members with merchandising and retail support.


Planning and Budgeting

With seasonal performance reports at your fingertips, future seasonal budgets and investments can be planned better. AIS provides recommendations on budgets and spend using historical performance, current seasonal performance, intake margin and where applicable stock levels to enhance your profitability.

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Get full visibility of your sales, markdown, margin and profit by style, product category and department so you can understand your trading patterns. Our reporting will help you analyse and assess “New” season performance versus older products to save you time in manual auditing. Real-time analysis allows you to optimise each season and we'll also recommend markdown strategy for poor sellers.

stock management

Stock Management

We can protect your best-selling lines that take a high percentage of department sales. Our delivery scheduling service allows visibility of all your orders placed and their delivery dates to allow you to plan and prepare

brand selection

Buying and Brand Selection

Curating collections, brands and products tailored to an independent retailer’s customer base and location is a specialist skill which combines creativity and experience with strategy, commercial acumen, and sector insight knowledge. AIS has a team of experts to help you range plan, negotiate the very best prices, and develop your promotions to maximise every sales opportunity across fashion and home.

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Exclusive Own Brand Labels

With our AIS exclusive own label products across fashion and home, we help you stand out on your high street; giving you the benefits that own labels deliver including strong margins and effective stock forecasting. As a member of AIS you can also contribute to our future product development to drive growth and sales.

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Supplier Relationship Management

Our teams have developed and secured a breadth of suppliers to suit any independent retailer. AIS can leverage buying power and negotiate the best prices for you. We'll help oversee the relationship with brands and suppliers, saving you time with the assurance that you have an expert team working on your behalf.

Our Products and Services

We have a team of highly respected experts across home, fashion, leisure, sports, and toys. We source the best brands, suppliers, exclusive products and develop our brands as well as providing essential commercially driven services to support the independent retailer.

Teal velvet sofa
Furniture Buying

Furniture is at the heart of the AIS buying group. We give independent retailers access to new, bestselling, and exclusive furniture products across upholstery, cabinet, bedroom, lighting, accessories, and garden.

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homeware buying
Homeware Buying

From well-known brands to exclusively sourced ranges across cookware, kitchenware, small electricals, dining, glassware, home fragrance, and home textiles, AIS is the UK and Ireland’s leading homeware buying group.

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a customer looking through the womens wear apparel
Fashion Buying

Explore men's, women's, and kids ranges across fashion, accessories, and footwear. With access to exclusive brands, a strong focus on lifestyle, high street, and high-end names, plus our own label First Avenue.

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AIS flooring and carpet
Flooring Buying

The AIS Flooring One team offers Members the best quality, largest, and most innovative selection of floor coverings in the UK and Ireland, with a wide variety of traditional and contemporary products to suit every room of the house.

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independent retail owner serving a customer
Retail Buying and Merchandising

A one-stop-shop of retail industry expertise, supporting with annual strategy and planning, buying, and brand selection - all designed to improve margins and profitability.

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AIS sports and leisure clothing
Sports and Leisure Buying

Our newest division, the AIS sports and leisure team work with leading sports, active lifestyle, performance wear, and team wear suppliers with a focus on innovation, expertise, and quality.

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toys from the largest buying group in the uk
Toy Buying

Playroom is the home of market-leading toy brands as well as unique and sustainable products for children and nursery. As an AIS Member you can get access to exclusive margin-beating import programmes too.

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industry expert from AIS
Easy Payments

CENPAC is our unique AIS central payment system. CENPAC enables Members to settle all invoices from our preferred AIS suppliers with one easy and convenient direct-debit payment.

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Become a Member of AIS

Membership is by Application. Register your interest and start your application today.