Over the two decades Watney has been in the fashion retail industry, an underlying theme in the upward trajectory of his career has been in his enjoyment of what he does in this dynamic industry.
“No single day is the same in high end fashion retail; each day I find something new and rewarding,” Watney said.
“Honestly, in the three years I have been with Christian Dior, I haven’t had a bad day. I love what I do and therefore the worst part is probably when the working day comes to an end.”
Watney studied in London, where he grew up, and took a gap year after completing school. However, instead of pursuing a planned career in banking, he started a two year management trainee course which was a combination of study and workplace experience.
“After one week of starting as a Management Trainee in Allders Department Store Group, I knew I wasn’t ever going to leave retail,” Watney said.
After five years Watney moved to House of Fraser where, after 18 months he was given his own store to manage (House of Fraser Chichester) followed by a promotion to manage a London store, House of Fraser Richmond.
“I became the youngest store manager in their history, a feat that I’m very proud of. Following two years in this role I was promoted to Project Manager for the soon to be opening House of Fraser Westfield store, and following this I moved to House of Fraser on Oxford Street.”
It was then that Watney’s transition into the luxury retail sector occurred.
A move to Harrods, followed by a stint at Ralph Lauren as general manager of their European Flagship, No.1 New Bond Street, was followed, after a few years, by a move into his current position as House of Dior Boutique Director, Bond Street, London.
“The role is incredible. I basically have full accountability for the House of Dior, New Bond Street which is the largest Dior boutique in the world,” Watney said.
“I have a team of over 100 people based in the boutique and I have autonomy to run the boutique in the way I see fit, following the vision and strategy I set when I started in this role.”
The House of Dior encompasses four floors and all universes (product categories) under one roof, from Women’s Ready to Wear to BabyDior, Maision Dior (Homeware), Leathergoods and Accessories, Fine Jewellery and Timepieces, Dior Homme Menswear and Perfume Christian Dior.
So to what does Watney attribute his rapid success in the luxury retail sector?
“I am where I am through hard work and always being positive; not overly complicating matters and keeping it simple,” he said.
Having worked in mid-market department stores for the first 10 years of his career and then having moved to Luxury, Watney is well placed to comment on the state of the industry.
“The high street (mid-market retail) started to decline 15 years ago and sadly I see more small high streets becoming ghost towns for shoppers. Many high streets and shopping centres haven’t innovated enough in the UK,” he said.
“Luxury retail hasn’t faced the same challenges as seen by High Street brands; however, I believe luxury retails have done more to become relevant to consumers and focused on innovation. Luxury brands that stay true to their heritage, while looking for innovation will always succeed,” he said.
“I also predict that Luxury retail will be seen and recognised as an incredible industry where one can have the most amazing career.”
It is at this level that Watney’s association with ICMS as Fashion Ambassador for the ICMS BBM (Fashion and Global Management) syncs in so beautifully with his passion for inspiring and encouraging students who want to make their mark in the industry.
“It’s wonderful to see Fashion and Global Brand Management getting the recognition of a degree. What I like about this particular degree is that it blends business and high-end fashion into one degree. It’s the perfect degree for the future industry leaders to undertake.”
To find out more about the ICMS BBM (Fashion and Global Brand Management) degree, click here: https://www.icms.edu.au/course/bachelor-business-management-fashion-and-global-brand-management
For more information on House of Dior, click here: https://www.dior.com/