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Up Close: Revelations from Fenwick’s buyer Abigail Ball and merchandiser Lizzie Tillmanns

Work is now underway at the Fenwick department store group to give the card selections in its stores “a fresh look”, but one that is very much tailored to each of the store’s demographics and respective customers’ buying tastes. 

Abigail Ball, who heads up the card buying for all Fenwick’s nine department stores and Lizzie Tillmanns, who provides the sales analysis and forecasting have embarked on a thorough review of each of its supplier’s portfolio to ensure, as Abigail explains, “that we have the best designs from them. With the number of stores we have gives us the opportunity to order in sizeable quantities while also being agile so as to get them into stores quickly.”

Part of the process also involves tidying up the inconsistencies in retail pricing, remedying a situation whereby the same card design could be on sale at a number of different prices within the group.

With the refresh underway Abigail and Lizzie are on a mission: “We are determined to offer a fresh and different card selection for our customers that they will not find anywhere else. It is a ‘work in progress’ but we will get there!”

Above: Fenwick’s flagship store in Newcastle where Abigail is based.
Above: Fenwick’s flagship store in Newcastle where Abigail is based.

Up Close and Personal

PG cajoled some little known facts and views from Abigail and Lizzie…

Above: Abigail on the Redback Cards’ stand at Harrogate Home and Gift with Sean Edwards – and some sparkly reversible sequin Shine cards.
Above: Abigail on the Redback Cards’ stand at Harrogate Home and Gift with Sean Edwards – and some sparkly reversible sequin Shine cards.

What is one thing that few people know about you?

Abigail: “That my ‘big love’ is dancing. I still do it all – ballet, tap, modern, aqua – and have appeared on TV shows, such as Got To Dance, on Sky One. I couldn’t make it to The Retas as I was performing in a dance show.”

Above: Abigail was performing last week in a dance show that was featured in the media in the North East.
Above: Abigail was performing last week in a dance show that was featured in the media in the North East.

Lizzie: “That my middle name is Hendrix, after Jimi.”

What lessons have you learned in business?

Abigail: “That it is all about building relationships.”

Lizzie: “Simply be nice – it’s the best way.”

What would be your guilty pleasure?

Abigail: “I am a hot chocolate addict.”

Lizzie: “Chocolate biscuits – ashamed to admit that I have been known to eat a whole packet in one go.”

What three words or phrases would best describe you?

Abigail about Lizzie: “Honest, ‘on it’ and caring.”

Lizzie about Abigail: “Bubbly, ‘get on with it’ and passionate.”

Above: Lizzie Tillmanns (right) and Abigail Ball with Paper Salad’s Jack Wilson at PG Live.
Above: Lizzie Tillmanns (left) and Abigail Ball with Paper Salad’s Jack Wilson at PG Live.

What would your dream job be (if the card trade didn’t exist)?

Abigail: “I’ve always wanted to run a dance school or, failing that be in Wicked in the West End.”

Lizzie: “A travel reviewer as I love travelling.”

A magic carpet awaits, where do you want to go?

Abigail: “On an American road trip.”

Lizzie: “Sri Lanka.”

Above: Lizzie would direct her magic carpet to Sri Lanka.
Above: Lizzie would direct her magic carpet to Sri Lanka.

Top: Fenwick’s Abigail Ball (left) and Lizzie Tillmanns at PG Live.

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