Merchandise Planning Manager

  • Full-time
  • Department: Planning and Allocation

Company Description

At rue21, we believe fashion should be fun and accessible to all. As a leading specialty retailer, we’re different, we’re unique—just like you. rue21 combines a shopping experience designed to fit the individuality of our customers with a community to foster love, advocate change and empower each other through what we wear and what we do. Join our team and be #YOUinrue.

Job Description

The Planning Manager is responsible for managing and leading a team of rue21 planners in the development of merchandise plans and forecasts that align with the company’s financial goals, business trends, and the merchandising division’s strategy. The manager works closely with the sr. merchant leading the merchandising super division and ensures the planners align with the top-down financial guidance and in accordance with bottoms-up planning processes for both pre-season and in-season milestones. The goal is to maximize growth and profitability by guiding the planners in their work with the buying teams to implement effective strategies and action plans to achieve sales, margin, GMROI, and sell through performance targets in support of department, division, and company-level goals.


Planning Processes

  • Ensures leadership alignment and support of the Director of Merchandise Planning and the Senior Merchant in the management and execution of pre-season and in-season planning milestones.
  • Works with sr. divisional leader of merchandising to assess the performance of the business and aligns on the strategies to meet the sales, inventory sell through, markdowns, and gross margin targets.
    • Manages and guides the planners through pre-season and in-season planning to ensure accuracy of forecasts and adherence to the milestone calendar and timeline.
    • Leads team members by ensuring consistency in the planning processes; applying best practices across planners; facilitating the appropriate tradeoffs across departments or classes to achieve financial goals and targets.
    • Facilitates the planning team’s preparation of the hindsight analysis by guiding them through the process, providing direction as needed, and reviewing drafts of final reports and slides before submitting as final to the master deck for presentation.
  • Ensures effective relationship building and collaboration between planners, allocation teams, and buyers in support of weekly and monthly actions focused on things such as reporting, analysis, the open-to-buy processes, product flow, and performance.
  • Recommends necessary adjustments to the plans and promotions to maximize sales and profit, or to mitigate risk, including the active management of inventory performance and aging to ensure effective end of life cycle execution in an effort to mitigate markdown liability.
  • Leverages analytics and formulates strategies to drive business performance across all channels.
  • Produces weekly and monthly reporting in support of the department and company.
  • Supports and/or leads special assignments as needed.

Planning Leadership: Team & Cross-Company

  • Supports the career development and growth of direct reports, including but not limited to effective issue resolution skills; presentation of key insights and actions in cross-company meetings, such as hindsight meetings, product line reviews, and strategic planning sessions with the buying teams.  
  • Ensures team readiness and success by leveraging effective resource utilization strategies; developing formal onboarding and training in support of new planners; and demonstrates support for career development opportunities by visibly leveraging rue21’s HR tools and processes.
  • Creates a collaborative and results-oriented environment with team and cross-functional partners.
  • Leads and/or supports special assignments and/or company strategic initiatives as requested.


Education and Experience

  • Bachelor’s Degree, preferably in Retail, Business, Finance, or a related field.
  • Minimum 7+ years’ experience in the retail industry, specifically in Merchandise Planning, Buying, Allocation, or Financial Planning, inclusive of 3+ years’ people management experience.
  • Direct experience and knowledge of the retail industry.
  • Strong financial acumen, especially as it relates to the retail method.
  • Excellent analytical skills: highly proficient in analyzing data, drawing conclusions, and presenting insights for action.
  • Outstanding verbal and written communication skills, including ability to present in meetings.
  • Strong project and time management skills and the ability to organize and assist team members in the prioritization of workload.
  • Self-motivated with critical attention to detail, deadlines, and reporting.
  • Technical knowledge in retail planning and reporting systems, such as: MS Office Suite (Advanced Excel Capabilities), Tableau, Blue Yonder/JDA, Oracle Suite, SAS, Aptos (Maple Lake, Txt)

Travel Requirements

  • Ability to travel as requested to rue21 headquarters for key milestone merchandising and planning meetings, typically averages 4 trips per year for 2 to 3 days.

Additional Information

What’s in it for you!

Competitive compensation and bonus plan

Comprehensive Benefit Package

  • Generous PTO offerings
  • 401K Retirement Plan with company match
  • Medical, Dental and Vision Coverage
  • Company sponsored Life Insurance
  • Health Savings Account
  • Flexible Spending Account/Dependent Care
  • Employee Assistance Program - Confidential support programs for associates and families

Employee Discounts

  • 40% off full price merchandise in stores and on-line
  • Perks at Work – Savings program on brands, travel, dining, and more

This summary of benefits is reflective of a range of those available and may not apply to all employees.


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