UK retail strikes gold!

The UK’s young visual merchandising talent was shown to be the best in the world on Sunday, after winning gold in the first ever retail competition at WorldSkills 2011.

Having already won a gold medal at the European skills competition, Euroskills, Kirsty Hoadley, 20, a visual merchandising student from Slough, beat off tough competition from Singapore, Netherlands and Finland to be named the best young visual merchandising talent in the world at the largest international vocational skills competition held at London’s ExCeL on 5-8 October 2011.

Over the four-day competition, Kirsty had to design and dress a Rule Britannia and Christmas party themed window, all under the glare of thousands of visitors and within tight deadlines.

Kirsty, who last week began her visual merchandising degree at London College of Fashion, was chosen as the visual merchandising representative for Team UK in November. Since then she has been following an intensive training course with retail expert and coach, Jonathan Baker.

Anne Seaman, Chief Executive of Skillsmart Retail, the training partner for the UK visual merchandising squad, said: “Congratulations to Kirsty – this is an amazing achievement that she should be very proud of. Kirsty has worked so hard over the last few months to hone her talents and at the competition brilliantly conveyed her passion for visual merchandising in two creative and technically strong displays. With such a great start in her career, I am sure Kirsty will soon become one of the visual merchandising leaders in UK retail.”

Kirsty, Team UK Gold Medallist in visual merchandising said: “It is an amazing feeling to be crowned the best in the world at visual merchandising. Standing on the podium receiving my medal in front of a packed venue at The 02 Arena is an experience I will never forget. Representing the UK has been awesome. I’ve learnt so much from working with visual merchandising experts and really improved my skills of turning ideas into a great window display. I eat, sleep and breathe visual merchandising and now can’t wait to now start my next challenge, a degree.”

Encouraged by the success of the national competition, skillVM, run by Skillsmart Retail, and the UK winning gold at EuroSkills 2010, retail was introduced to WorldSkills 2011 for the first time in its 61 year history.

Anne said: “It is really important to have visual merchandising recognised as a professional vocational career alongside other skills at WorldSkills. Such competitions are a great way to promote the importance of this creative and skilled discipline and encourage young people to consider it as an exciting retail career option.”

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