Case Studies

Ben Hulme - Food Assortment Manager

Company Name: Lidl

Location: Head Office, Wimbledon

Studied a BA (Hons) degree in English and German Studies at the University of Birmingham. Graduated in 2010.

Length of service – 1 year

1. Which university did you graduate from, in which area and year?

I graduated from The University of Birmingham in 2010 with a 2:1 in English and German Studies.

2. Why did Lidl appeal? 

I saw German as my main marketable asset, so wanted to work for a company where I could use it. Retail enticed me as I saw within it opportunities for early responsibility and progression. Therefore, the chance of a job at Lidl seemed appealing, particularly considering the multinational nature of the company, as well as its plans for growth and expansion.

3. What did the recruitment process involve?

The first interview was a group interview with about six other candidates and two Directors, followed up by an individual interview with two Directors. The first interview was more general, in order to ascertain suitability for the role. The second interview was much more thorough, and was a mixture of questions about my CV, work related scenarios, and questions in German. My advice – be able to back up anything you say with examples and reasons!

4. What does your current role involve?

Like every Buyer here, I look after a number of different categories – in my case; wine, spirits, cooking sauces and condiments. My main responsibility is to maintain and develop these categories. Important tasks involve negotiating and developing relationships with suppliers, sourcing and developing new products, monitoring quality and commercial viability of existing products, assessing and responding to market activity, and liaising with the various other departments within Lidl. Knowing a lot about your products and markets is essential. As a Buyer at Lidl you are given a large amount of responsibility and freedom to make decisions about the categories you look after, which is exciting but highly pressured.

5. What has been your route through the company?

When I started with Lidl in September 2010, I spent three weeks working in store, two weeks working at one of the warehouses, and a couple of weeks within various other departments at Head Office. It is slightly daunting at first, but helps give you a real understanding of the way the company works. I started in the Buying Department in October, where I shadowed Senior Buyers for approximately six months before being given my own categories, and becoming a fully fledged Buyer.

6. What training have you received?

Almost all of the training is on the job and involves shadowing a Senior Buyer, picking up skills, and being given more responsibility as you progress. Succeeding here requires high levels of self motivation, initiative and drive – if you’re the kind of person that needs a slow, structured training programme, this job isn’t for you. The training and progression reflects the retail environment – fast paced.

7. Why would you recommend retail?

I can only speak for Lidl, but I can’t imagine many other professional environments where I would have this level of responsibility at such an early stage. Retail is fast paced, demanding, and the hours are often longer than in other professions, but once you get past that, it’s incredibly rewarding, both in terms of job satisfaction, the levels of responsibility, and the fast career progression.

8. What advice would you give to other graduates looking for a job?

Take your time looking for the job that will suit you. There’s no point in setting your heart on the first company that offers you an interview if it isn’t right for you. Do your homework and put a lot of effort into finding the right job – at the end of the day it’s your career!


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