CAREER FRIDAY: Director, Direct Imports – Private Brand

Director, Direct Imports – Private Brand
Orchard Supply Hardware
State/City: CA San Jose

Orchard Supply Hardware (OSH), a member of the Sears Holdings Corporation (NASDAQ: SHLD) family of companies, is one of California’s largest hardware and garden retail chains with over 85 stores averaging 40,000 square feet. Since 1931 and with a consistent focus on Convenience, Service and Selection, we have helped generations of customers maintain and repair their homes and gardens with over 45,000 items, easy-to-shop stores and homespun hospitality. A refreshing alternative to the home improvement big boxes, Orchard Supply Hardware still serves California with the same simple retail philosophy developed long ago, “Take good care of our customers and they will take good care of you.”

Job Description
The Director, Direct Imports, is responsible to grow and manage direct and private label import products for the Company. The position will develop and execute an import business strategy that will deliver value and quality to the consumer, drive top line revenues, and generate margin improvement. This position will be multi-facing—partnering with merchandise buying teams, contract sourcing agents and product manufacturers and/or suppliers.

Job Responsibilities

  • Grow and manage direct imports
  • Develop, build support for, communicate and implement import business strategies, plans and practices that will align and complement merchandise category management strategies
  • Manage a Direct Import team of Buyers to drive the import business strategies across each category
  • Partner with contract sourcing agents to source, identify, develop, and qualify manufacturers/suppliers
  • Identify, source and purchase import products that deliver value and quality to the customer, drive top line revenues, and generate margin improvements
  • Negotiate total cost of goods, evaluating cost of supply, transportation, duties, brokerage fees, etc.
  • Manage relationships with sourcing agents and manufacturers/suppliers
  • Consistently communicate and provide direction to sourcing agents and manufacturers/suppliers
  • Ensure manufacturers/suppliers meet production development and delivery deadlines; help establish production priorities
  • Monitor manufacturers/suppliers’ performance and compliance with contract terms and conditions, service level agreements and status of critical deliverables and deadlines
  • Understand regional risk factors including foreign country competencies; manufacturer/supplier capabilities, capacities, and growth strategies; and foreign country political and economical stability
  • Be a key internal link and collaborate with merchandise buying teams, marketing, finance, inventory management and supply chain, legal
  • Help develop and grow private label strategies
  • Ensure import business strategies align with and complement merchandise category management strategies
    o Work with buying teams to identify domestic products that are candidates for conversion to direct import
  • Partner with Marketing to develop and maintain the private brand architecture, and provide input on the packaging for each item included in the assortment
  • Participate with buying teams to track and report on merchandising trends
    o Monitor and manage inventory levels in partnership with Inventory Planning and Replenishment to maximize turns and ROII
  • Maintain market intelligence in order to identify and take advantage of continuous improvement and margin enhancement opportunities
  • Troubleshoot production/delivery issues
  • Understand, problem solve and help train the complete direct import process and foreign trade requirements and barriers
  • Recommend courses of actions in problem solving issues and barriers
  • Manage deliver financial performance and results, including top-line revenues, gross margin, inventory management, and ROII
  • Develop and manage direct import team

Job Requirements

Education: Bachelor’s Degree preferred

Experience: 10 or more years’ related experience and demonstrated successful track record in direct import sourcing and development and foreign supplier management


  • Strong business acumen with an ability to understand business models and key drivers, and clear focus to deliver financial results
  • Ability to work collaboratively and effectively across all levels of the organization and with outside agents and vendors
  • Action-oriented, with a bias toward execution, effective issue resolution, and development of long-term solutions
  • Ability to focus on and prioritize critical issues and activities while managing multiple priorities simultaneously and independently
  • Ability to influence and bring together various constituencies to coordinate solutions
  • Effective negotiator
  • Excellent communications skills, both written and verbal
  • Strong strategic, conceptual thinking, and analytical skills
  • Change leadership skills

Other: Overseas travel required quarterly

Requisition ID: 88280BRP

Minimum Education: Bachelors Level Degree

Years Experience: 10 – 15 Years Experience


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Christopher Durham
Christopher Durham is the president of My Private Brand and the co-founder of The Vertex Awards. He is a strategist, author, consultant and retailer who built brands at Delhaize-owned Food Lion, and lead strategy and brand development for Lowe’s Home Improvement. He has consulted with retailers around the world on their private brand portfolios including: Family Dollar, Petco, Staples, Office Depot, Best Buy, Metro (Canada), TLW (Taiwan) and Hola (Taiwan). Durham has published five definitive books on private brands, including his first book, Fifty2: The My Private Brand Project. In 2017, he will debut his newest book, Vanguard: Vintage Originals, a visual tour of innovation and disruption in private brand going back to the mid-1800’s. Dynamic in his presentation while down to earth and frank in his opinions, he has presented at numerous conferences, including FUSE, The Dieline Conference, Packaging that Sells, Omnishopper and PLMA’a annual trade show in Chicago. Durham lives in Charlotte, NC with his wife, Laraine, and two daughters, Olivia and Sarah.