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A day in the life of Antonia Scelsi

Taking on the Southeast was the next step for Coast’s flagship manager, a year after making Drapers’ 30 Under 30 list.

Antonia Scelsi

Antonia Scelsi


What does your typical week involve?
I’ll visit stores in the Southeast region - which includes 36 shops and concessions in locations such as Bluewater in Kent, Cambridge, Lakeside in Essex, Guildford and Richmond-upon-Thames - to ensure they all meet company expectations. It is about ensuring each location is driving business as much as possible and really focusing on customer service.

I may have a few meetings in the head office, but mainly my role is field-based. I go out to stores to discuss floor layouts, staffing and the overall customer experience, including how customers have been reacting to promotions and what kind of events they are dressing for. I use this information to liaise with other regional managers and from there we might consider bringing forward a collection to tie in with the prom or wedding season for example.

Which task are you most looking forward to today?
Visiting my 3,000 sq ft flagship in Bluewater. Due to its size we are able to really showcase all of our beautiful product. The team there are so passionate and we always have a productive day, so I leave the store feeling really positive. 

Which task do you wish you could postpone?
I wish I could postpone my drive home. I live in north London, which is 48 miles away from Bluewater door to door, so I always get stuck in horrendous traffic. 

How did you get to where you are today?
In 2003 I became a part-time sales assistant at Zara in Brent Cross, north London. I then took a year out after my A-levels in 2004 to work full-time at the store. In that year I progressed to visual merchandiser and after a few months my manager moved me into a supervisory position. In this role I was given the opportunity to support the launch of a new Zara store in Victoria, which opened in 2005. It went really well and I was made deputy store manager later that year.

I was approached by Arcadia two years later and moved to Wallis as deputy manager of the flagship Marble Arch store. Between 2010 and 2012 I worked as flagship manager, after which I was headhunted to become flagship manager of Coast’s new Oxford Street store in July 2012. I’ve worked for Coast for two years and in August was promoted to interim regional manager for the Southeast. 

What has happened in the year since you were named one of Drapers’ 30 Under 30?
It’s been a great year. Having been promoted, I’m excited to be in a field role, which is very different to being in store. I now manage a much bigger team of managers. I want to make sure that each visit adds value and ensure I give the store manager all of my attention.

What has it meant for you both personally and professionally?
It was a great achievement to be featured in Drapers, as the magazine is so established. Personally it has been amazing to be recognised for all my hard work and it was so unexpected. I made the decision not go to university and work my way up the retail ladder, which my family were not too pleased about, so it has meant so much to achieve this. It was great to make my family proud. 

Who is your mentor?
Cigdem Ulgen, head of franchise at Coast.

What’s the best piece of advice she’s given you?
She always encouraged me to think outside the box as much as I can. It’s about being aware of the competition but putting your own spin on it and doing what you can to stay ahead and be a pioneer.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to follow in your footsteps?
I’d say that hard work really does pay off. When you are a store manager it’s about what can you do above and beyond to really generate results. It’s also about teamwork as you can’t do everything all on your own. And it’s about knowing every bit of your business and seeing it as your own. You also have to be passionate about what you do. If you are, I believe you will naturally excel.

  • Salaries for this position range from £50,000 to £75,000 (estimate by The MBS Group)

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