Job profile: Category buyer

Job Title:

Category Buyer


David Porter


Co-operative Group (CWS) Ltd

Professional Qualification(s):

10 GCSE’s, 2 A levels, HND Business & Finance, BA (Hons) Administrative Management

Degree studied at University of Humberside and Lincolnshire

My career so far…

After university I joined Ericsson Telecoms in product management and logistics.

I was a supplies analyst for two and a half years with CRS, then CWS after the merger.

I started the buying role in October 2000.

Brief Job Description

Currently responsible for buying dental, deodorant, skincare, cosmetic & eyecare categories.

What does your job involve in a typical day?

Firstly there is no such thing as a typical day!!

My role encompasses looking after the profitability and performance of my categories. I look at ways to developing the category, improving sales and profitability by meeting the needs of our customers. I need to ensure that stores, who are at the front end of retailing, are given the necessary tools and information to service our customers effectively and efficiently. Work closely with other members of the category team on range development and other projects. We work closely with other departments within the business e.g. forecasting with supplies, technical department on own label development etc.

Regular meetings with my suppliers enable us both to stay close to what is happening and try to ensure that we are both doing our best to benefit both of our businesses.

It is hard work, and you are always under pressure to meet targets and deadlines, and you sometimes don’t know if you are coming or going, but it is enjoyable most of the time. There are frustrating bits but, as a manager, you get on with them and solve the problems – it’s part of the job.

What do like most about your job?

The pace. Nothing ever stands still for long, and it is rarely repetitive. It is also satisfying to go into a store and see your new range, or the promotion you worked hard to get, actually there, working for you and making a difference. It’s tangible – which is sometimes lacking in other roles.

What skills are required in your job?

  • You must be a good listener.
  • Analytical ability – to sort the ‘wheat from the chaff’ as it were
  • Communication has to be good at all levels – you will talk to everybody
  • You need good negotiation skills – these can only be really learnt through experience and working closely with those that are good at it – training courses can only teach you so much
  • You must be agile and adaptable, the status quo won’t remain so for long
  • Organisation and planning ability is also a vital requirement
  • You need a clear understanding of the consumer and the market place
  • The list could go on…

How many people work for you?


What is your advice to people looking for a career in the food and grocery industry?

If you like a fast moving environment, where you need to be on the ball all of the time, to cope with the constantly changing market and influences on your business, then this is where you want to be.

If, however, you like stability, repetitiveness and dependency on what is going to happen tomorrow……….. choose something else!