Retail veteran Mike Fethers tells us what being a games buyer involves and what skills retailers look for in prospective candidates.
How would you summarise your role?
I’m the senior games buyer here at The Hut Group and look after the first party hardware guys and a few of the third party software accounts. It’s all about getting the right product at the right price in front of the right audience.
What are your main responsibilities?
Day-to-day I focus on trading with the first parties and working with all our suppliers to get a decent proposition together for the group’s websites.
The more exciting things are looking at the long term strategy and trying to figure out what the next big thing is before anyone else.
How did you get your job?
I applied via LinkedIn to Ash who’s the group talent director after they advertised for a Senior Buyer role. Before joining I gained experience from the Tesco Graduate Scheme and HMV, both of those roles gave me the skills needed to do the job I do today.
What special skills or qualifications did you need?
In terms of skills games buying is all about Excel Spreadsheets and relationship building. There’s a large amount of statistics and data-sets to look at and interpret so you can decide what you’re doing for a new release title or even launching into a new country. Relationship wise, the games industry is a friendly place for the most part so be firm but fair (with a smile on your face) and you’ll go a long way.
Describe a normal day. What do you do?
Every day is a different day so it’s hard to define ‘normal’. When it comes to routine there’s lots to be done in terms of finance, forecasting and finding new opportunities. On other days I could be spending time with Microsoft to plan the quarter’s activity or next seasonal event. It’s all about driving sales and making sure you’re spending your working week doing that.
What are the best and worst parts of your role?
Best parts: It’s great to take time to sit down with the supplier base to celebrate success and review what we’ve done as a business. It allows us to work together to plan how to make things bigger and better next time. The other thing to mention is the team here at The Hut who’ve welcomed me with open arms and put up with my moaning.
Worst part: Spreadsheets but it’s true and it’s been the same since I first started out.
What tips would you give to someone applying for a similar position?
Know everything you can about the company you’re applying to work for and don’t be afraid to ask questions about what you’ve found out in the interview. Google News is your friend and will keep you up to date about the company.
Show off your market knowledge, you’ve spent all that time developing and honing it… use it.
What tips would you offer someone applying to work in the same field?
Know your market, if you want to be a games buyer you need to know about games. Try and show what you know and how it effects the company you’re interviewing at.
Know the competition. It’s great having a plan for the guys you’re sat interviewing with but how does that compete with what the grocers or online retailers are doing? I’ve sat in on some embarrassing interviews where a poor guy had a wonderful master plan that fell at the first hurdle of ‘What would Amazon do?’.
What are your long-term career plans?
Long term it’s about continuing the growth we’ve seen across the group in terms of games sales and building up my own skillset so I can go through the ranks.