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Buyer Profile


This Section of the site details information that you might find useful if you are looking to secure employment or require further details regarding working as an Buyer. This page details the following Information:-

  • Finding Suitable Work as an Buyer
  • Working Duties Expected
  • Hours and Environment
  • Working Skills Required
  • Training Requirements
  • Salary Expectations
  • Trade Information
  • Other useful Buyer Work Information

Finding Suitable Work

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Working Duties Expected

A buyer or purchasing officer buys the goods, equipment, raw materials and services needed by their business or organisation. In the retail industry, they also buy the stock that goes on sale, working closely with design teams and merchandisers. They:

• help to decide what needs to be bought and the budget
• select products
• agree contract terms and monitor the progress of orders
• write reports, analyse sales figures and forecast trends
• present new ideas to management.

Buyers normally work office hours, with extra hours during evenings and weekends when necessary. Buyers are based in an office, but usually make outside visits to suppliers, possibly abroad.

A buyer needs to be:

• able to make speedy, firm decisions
• able to work under pressure
• tactful and assertive
• able to absorb and assess information quickly.

Buyers work in a wide range of public and private organisations throughout the country. Most buyers are based in head offices. Work abroad may be possible with large multinational organisations.

Most enter with A levels/H grades, an HND/HNC, or a degree. Many employers run their own training schemes.

Promotion prospects are limited in small-scale organisations, but excellent in larger companies. Some move into management, or other related areas of work.

What does the role encounter?

Buyers/purchasing officers are responsible for buying in the goods and services needed by an organisation, such as a hospital, a factory or a retail outlet. Purchases can include equipment such as office supplies, machinery components and raw materials for manufacturing, uniforms for the staff or services such as cleaning. In the case of the retail industry, they also procure the stock that goes on sale.

The job includes:

• deciding along with the management what needs to be bought and what the budget will be
• selecting the products, sometimes liaising with colleagues such as designers and merchandisers
• finding possible suppliers and getting quotes
• meeting and negotiating with suppliers
• agreeing the terms of the contract, including price and date of delivery
• monitoring progress with them once a contract is agreed
• making sure the right orders arrive on time, and following up those which do not
• ensuring suppliers are paid
• keeping up-to-date with new developments through the internet, reading catalogues and attending trade fairs
• presenting new ideas to senior management teams
• writing reports and helping to analyse sales figures and forecast trends.

Buyers might also have other responsibilities such as being in charge of materials, storage and stock control. That means making sure that they have enough stock at any one time - but not too much.

Sometimes buyers specialise - for example, in the retail industry, they may work closely with design teams when ranges are planned, and with merchandisers to predict future trends.

Buyers use a computer a great deal to record and analyse performance, monitor stock levels and use the internet. They also spend time reading catalogues and consulting trade directories. They spend a lot of time on the telephone.

What type of hours will I have to work?

Buyers work office hours - but they have to be prepared to work extra hours when necessary, during evenings and weekends. They may be able to work flexible hours.

Buyers are based in an office, but usually make outside visits to suppliers, possibly abroad and this may mean spending short periods away from home. They might have to be prepared to move their base about the country, particularly if they are in the retail trade.

What level of salary and benefits are there?

These figures are purely for guidance only. Salaries may vary for the area the job is situated in, age, experience along with a host of other factors:

• Starting salaries can range from about £13,000 to about £18,000 a year.
• After three or four years' experience, a typical salary may range from £20,000 to £30,000 a year.
• It is possible in some companies to earn over £50,000 a year.

What type of skills will I need?

You will need to have some or all of the following type of skills to carry out this job:

• sound judgement
• the ability to make speedy, firm decisions
• the ability to work under pressure and meet deadlines on time
• a mixture of tact and assertiveness when negotiating with suppliers
• good communication skills
• good creative ability and an eye for detail
• planning and organisational skills
• high levels of stamina
• the ability to absorb and assess information quickly
• good financial sense to manage budgets
• numerical skills to interpret statistics
• a driving licence.

What type of training will I receive?

Many employers run their own training schemes. For example, some retail stores offer graduate management trainee schemes, with progression to a buying role. Organisations of other types have graduate trainee schemes specifically for buyers.

The CIPS Graduate Diploma is taken in two stages: The Foundation Stage and the Professional Stage. Methods of study for the Graduate Diploma include part time, distance and flexible learning with tutorial support. There are also several postgraduate courses accredited by CIPS.

Career Progression:

Promotion prospects are limited in small-scale organisations, but excellent in larger companies, especially for buyers who are prepared to relocate. They might move into management, or related areas of work such as computing, distribution, logistics, quality control, stores and materials control, merchandising, marketing or sales.

Are there similar types of job or related industries?

Yes, this list is not exhaustive but see the following categories:

Distribution Manager
Fashion Model
Market Research Executive
Marketing Manager
Quality Control Inspector
Sales Representative
Store Owner/Manager
Supply Chain Co-ordinator
Warehouse Worker/Manager.

Where can I find further information?

The British Retail Consortium, Second Floor, 21 Dartmouth Street, London SW1H 9BP. 020 7854 8900. Website:

Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply, Easton House, Easton on the Hill, Stamford, Lincolnshire PE9 3NZ. 01780 756777. Website:

Foundation Degree, (Site maintained by DfES Publications, Sherwood Park, Annesley, Nottingham NG15 0DJ.) Website:

The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (UK), Logistics and Transport Centre, Earlstree Court, Earlstree Road, Corby, Northants NN17 4AX. 01536 740100. Website:

Skillsmart Retail Ltd., (The Retail Sector Skills Council) 40 Duke Street, London W1A 1AB. 020 7399 3450. Website:

Other Useful Buyer Work Information

We have a section available at this site on Buyer job interview tips that you may find of interest should you wish to brush up your skills in this area and we also have number of career articles that may also be of use to you from within our guides and documents section.

Locations where we feature Jobs include:-
Aberdeen, Berkshire, Aberdeen, Bath, Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Cambridgeshire, Cardiff, Central London, Cheltenham, Cornwall, Coventry, Derby, Devon, Docklands, Dorset, Dundee, Durham, East Midlands, East Sussex, Edinburgh, Essex, Glasgow, Gloucester, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Kent, Lancashire, Leeds, Leicester, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Middlesbrough, Midlands and in various parts of the West Midlands

Details of other Buyer Jobs can also be found in other UK wide areas including:-
Milton Keynes, Newcastle, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Norfolk, North London, North Midlands, Northampton, Northamptonshire, Northern Ireland, Northumberland, Norwich, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, Oxford, Oxfordshire, Plymouth, Salisbury, Scotland, Sheffield, Shropshire, Somerset, South East, South London, South Midlands, Southampton, Staffordshire Surrey, Swansea, Swindon, Telford, Wales, Warwickshire, West End, West London, West Midlands, Worcestershire, York and throughout Yorkshire.

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