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Vice President of Merchandise Planning & Allocation

Location: Chicago-Paper Source Headquarters


Vice President of Merchandise Planning & Allocation
The Vice President of Merchandise Planning & Allocation (MP&A) directly reports to the Chief Merchandising Officer/ General Merchandising Manager (CMO/GMM). Together with the CMO/GMM, the Vice President of MP&A ensures financial plans, buy plans and business reviews are managed to achieve desired goals. The Vice President of MP&A serves as an integral member of the executive team as a key business advisor.
Position Summary
The Vice President of Merchandise Planning & Allocation(MP&A) is a business leader overseeing the development of pre-season and in-season financial plans that help drive merchandising initiatives to grow top line sales ensuring profitability and maximizing inventory productivity across all channels of business. The Vice President of MP&A leads the activities of all merchandise planners and is responsible for the leadership, development and training of these individuals.
Our unique business model of retail, wholesale and direct to consumer including custom, requires the ability to manage multiple priorities in a fast paced environment.  The Vice President of MP&A is accountable for governing the inventory management for all Paper Source Inc. businesses.  With a high percent of the business at Paper Source internally produced, responsibility includes overseeing the production of quantitative Paper Source product requirements, consolidating the demand forecasts, ensuring that accurate buy quantities are produced and forecasting future production.
Paper Source is an organization where an entrepreneurial and collaborative hands-on approach is welcomed.  The importance of strong cross department partnerships is critical to the success of this position.
Essential Job Responsibilities and Accountabilities
Pre-Season Strategic Planning
  • Strategizes, develops, and presents annual and season financial plans to company CEO, CFO and CMO/GMM
  • Partners with company planning in the establishment of sales, margin, and inventory goals
  • Frequent interaction and collaboration with CMO/GMM to support merchandising strategies and vision
  • Provides analysis and research to support the creation of assortment/buy plans with strong attention to seasonal products and corresponding strategy
  • Develops and communicates a seasonal planning and forecasting calendar for the planning team, ensuring that deadlines are met with regular follow-up on the progress against key milestones for all Paper Source channels
  • Directs the analysis of historical data and current trends to identify risk and opportunities by category, sub-category and SKU
  • Reviews plans to ensure that they are consistent with company financial goals and strategies
In-Season Management Purchasing, Allocation and Replenishment
  • Develops and implements standardized approach to merchandise processes, reporting and analytics
  • Leads best practices for assortment planning and makes recommendations to support allocation strategies
  • Develop product inventory plans that deliver sufficient quantities to ensure adequate product flow based on business trends.  Recommend and execute inventory re-balancing opportunities as necessary to most effectively flow goods
  • Partners with merchandising team and distribution team to identify distribution and vendor logistics opportunities
  • Partners with production on the management of component inventory
  • Recommends and implements enhancements or replacement of existing merchandising systems
  • Strategic analysis and action plans of component inventory levels both in-house and with our vendor partner
Open-to-Buy Monitoring
  • In partnership with CMO/GMM conducts and leads the overall monthly OTB process for stores, direct-to-consumer and production businesses for optimization
  • Creates and manages weekly, monthly and seasonal forecasts
  • Analyzes weekly sales trends and performance to identify risks and opportunities and recommends necessary actions to deliver results
  • Provide month to date, season to date, seasonal recaps and ad hoc analysis
  • Analyzes inventory productivity and recommends adjustments by store and category
  • Develops and implements action plan to ensure achievement of merchandise plan including sales, margin and inventory 
  • Develops exit strategies for non-productive inventory to maximize GMROI; identifies and recommends markdown projections
  • Key Business Partnerships: Work to increase inventory productivity in all Paper Source businesses through analysis and collaboration with business partners.
  • Strategic partnerships with CFO, Vice President of Marketing & eCommerce, Vice President of Supply Chain, and CIO with frequent interaction to collect, analyze and manage forecasting and planning activities.
  • In collaboration with key business partners develop and implement merchandising annual budget and sales plans.
  • Responsible for providing detailed merchandise financial statement to the CFO in preparation for monthly investment updates with Board of Directors
  • Active member of quarterly board meetings, preparing and reporting to the  CMO/GMM, on hind-sights and forward action of merchandising to Board of Directors, CEO and executive leadership team
Team Development
  • Recruit, develop and retain highly skilled merchandising planning team providing on-going coaching and development opportunities
  • Actively participate and influence the development of direct reports on achieving goals for sales, margin, inventory and personal growth plans
  • Mentor and coach merchandising planning team on planning functions, systems and tools – support and lead continuous process improvement
  • Mentor associates on opportunities for development in a fast growing entrepreneurial environment
  • Encourage team to seek opportunities for innovative approaches to issues, help facilitate the implementation of solutions
  • Participate in team's activities and help to support and develop a supportive team environment
  • Participates in fostering job satisfaction and positive morale
Desired Attributes, Qualifications & Skills
  • Dynamic leader with merchandise centric approach
  • Bachelor’s degree, Master’s degree preferred
  • Established professional with broad retail experience; strategic partnerships with leadership teams, planning, forecasting, analysis, management and development of professional teams
  • Minimum 5 years’ experience in a Director Level role of MP&A, leading a team of people in a high volume, SKU dense business.  Worked for a best in class retailer with proven career progression; five to eight years of experience in buying and planning capacity.
  • Knowledge of different business operating models – retail, wholesale, custom and direct to consumer with successful supply and demand planning
  • Strong business and sophisticated financial analysis skills (including retail math acumen); excellent modeling/excel skills
  • Outstanding communication and solid presentation skills, geared toward results-oriented communication
  • Strong leadership and team building skills, including mentoring, training, and development
  • Must embrace the need for hands-on work in a high energy growth company environment
  • Ability to be proactive and resourceful; anticipates issues and draw conclusions from financial and operating data; dynamic, creative and fact-based decision maker
  • Possess and demonstrate excellent organizational, interpersonal, facilitation, oral and written communication skills with all levels of management
  • Ability to multitask and to prioritize workload under tight deadlines in a fast-paced environment – must escalate 
appropriate issues to management in a timely fashion
  • Must be detailed oriented – with strong attention to accuracy and problem solving;  “following-up until resolved” skills are a must
  • Ability to give recommendations on system improvements ideally with experience in implementation of new merchandise planning systems
  • Excels in cross functional team collaboration
  • Process-oriented thinker who can improve the overall environment and effectiveness of work flow while maintaining existing output of work product

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