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Head of Commercial

  • Organisation:The Design Museum
  • Location:London, England
  • Salary:up to £50,000 per annum DOE
  • Contract type:Permanent / Full-Time

The Head of Commercial is a key member of the Management team and responsible for ensuring the Museum’s visitor experience team provide exemplary customer service to our visitors, all the while maximising the profitability of the Design Museum’s shops, publishing programme and catering.

This role is crucial in driving and developing the future success, not only of the retail and catering business, but the wider commercial activity and of the museum itself. The successful candidate will have proven experience in retail management across buying, merchandising and operations and have excellent team building and people management skills.

Job scope
Reporting to the Director of Finance and Operations, the Head of Commercial directly manages six line reports. The total team numbers a core workforce of 25 and a peripheral workforce of 150 that includes casuals’, freelancers, and volunteers. The catering contract is managed directly with the caterer’s General Manager.

The Head of Commercial plays a strategic role with responsibility for delivering profits to the Design Museum – essential to ensuring its resilience. The role is responsible for ensuring an excellent welcome and high standards of customer service are delivered across the team and ensuring that income from visitors is maximised.

The role encompasses the profitable sourcing, production, marketing and sale of commercial products, including publications, through on site and digital platforms, and manages the visitor experience team, catering contract and future commercial development opportunities which align with the Museum’s strategic objectives. They will also proactively identify new business opportunities that maximise the museum’s commercial potential.

Job description

•    Work strategically with all teams/stakeholders to ensure that the Museum’s vision is delivered, taking particular responsibility for visitor engagement.
•    Lead, motivate and develop the team to deliver a high performing museum operation.
•    Deliver income and margins in line with or exceeding expectations across all areas of responsibility, working to increase net profit through commercial opportunities.
•    Prepare and deliver the annual departmental strategic plan, supporting the museum’s business plan.
•    Prepare annual budgets and reforecasts. Monitor and report on KPIs, taking appropriate corrective action where necessary.
•    Collaborate with Communications team to develop and implement a marketing strategy for Retail, Ecommerce and Publishing.
•    Identify and advise on systems to improve profitability, activity management, reporting and operations.
•    Work with the Enterprise committee, providing reports on performance and organising committee meetings.
•    Contribute to the management of the Museum’s risk register.

Visitor experience
•    Set and review standards for visitor facing teams and lead by example when implementing these to ensure a high-quality visitor experience.
•    Work proactively within all teams to ensure that appropriate business continuity plans are in place in the event of a major incident.
•    Work across the Museum to identify opportunities to operationally improve the visitor experience.
•    Ensure the system for managing  visitor enquiries and complaints  deals with them to a high standard of visitor satisfaction. .
•    Lead  and develop the strategy for the onsite and online ticketing journey.

•    Direct range strategy, planning and product development for core and exhibition ranges that sets an industry benchmark for quality, design, and value for money.
•    Lead the visual merchandising of all commercial areas. Give clear direction on standards and expectations leading to visually appealing and commercially driven retail layouts and displays.
•    Oversee efficient and accurate inventory management.
•    Explore commercial opportunities for Retail development, e.g. pop ups, installations.

•    Direct the development and delivery an ecommerce strategy which grows revenue and profitability through increasing traffic, conversion rate and average order value.
•    Drive exploitation of growth opportunities e.g. affiliates, cross marketing, third party marketing channels and drop shipment arrangements.
•    Oversee the integration of Ecommerce into CRM.

•    Lead the management of publishing operations to ensure an appropriate and commercially viable publishing programme is delivered.
•    Collaborate with the Chief Curator for curatorial and editorial content.
•    Line manage the Publishing Manager to ensure delivery of the programme to an agreed schedule and budget.
•    Identify appropriate resourcing on a project by project basis.
•    Negotiating and manage all contracts with co-publishers.
•    Oversee existing distribution and co-publication agreements & contracts to ensure best terms and value is achieved for the museum.
•    Manage all external and internal distribution and selling arrangements.

•    Appoint and manage a public catering contractor, ensuring agreed SLAs and KPIs are met or exceeded.
•    Liaise directly with the catering contractor’s General Manager to deliver outstanding food offers at reasonable prices, that meet the needs of museum visitors while maximising revenue to the Museum.

Business development
•    Identify and respond to commercial opportunities with the potential to deliver new revenue streams and extend brand reach, to include brand licensing.
•    Formulate and propose business plans which establish the potential risks and returns from new business propositions.

Reports to: director of finance and operations
Department: finance and operations
Direct reports: buying manager, visitor experience manager, visitor operations manager, retail operations manager, publishing manager, ecommerce manager
Contract management: catering

Person specification: Knowledge, experience and skills

•    Knowledge of Ecommerce.
•    Good knowledge of publishing.

•    Proven track record in retail management with specific profit and loss responsibility.
•    Experience of managing a visitor experience team at a senior level.
•    Experience of creating and implementing rostering systems using resourcing models to best fit business needs.
•    Experience of leading and managing a team, including team development, performance management, recruitment, and training.
•    Experience of producing accurate and meaningful management information, including reports, strategy documents and operational procedures.

•    Excellent financial, business management and planning skills with proven budget management responsibility.
•    Strong supplier management and negotiation skills.
•    Excellent communicator – able to communicate with a broad range of people to inspire and inform.
•    Collaborative approach to problem solving, working across an organisation.
•    Strong entrepreneurial drive and appetite.
•    Excellent written and report writing skills.
•    Computer literate with excellent Excel skills and experience of using databases, EPOS, and stock control systems.

•    Commercial experience within the museums, galleries, heritage, or culture sector.
•    Understanding and knowledge of contemporary design.
•    Experience of using CRM systems.

Terms + conditions
Salary: up to £50,000 per annum, dependent on experience
Holidays: 25 days + christmas eve (museum closed)
Hours: 37.5 hours/5 days per week
Location: the museum is trialling a part-remote working arrangement, where staff work 60% of their role at the museum and 40% remote

Closing date:     24th October 2021, midnight
Interviews:     1st round, 3rd November 2021, 2nd round, tbc

Application process

For all the latest job vacancies at the Design Museum, please visit our Careers page to apply via our online portal. During the application process you will be asked to download an application form. The completed application form must be reuploaded onto your application. Please note we are not able to accept other forms of application for our job roles.

Design Museum Staff Benefits

Employees are entitled to 25 days holiday, rising to 26 days after two years’ service and 27 days after five years’ service, plus 8 days Bank Holiday and Christmas Eve (museum closed), pro-rata for part-time employees. Other benefits include access to a defined contribution pension scheme, an employee assistance programme, season ticket loan, cycle to work scheme, free entry for friends and family to the museum, a variety of staff discounts including the museum shop and free entry to a wide number of galleries and museums in London.

Hours of Work

Full-time employees are required to work no less than 37.5 hours per week and the standard working day is 9.30am – 6.00pm which includes a daily 1 hour break (30 minutes paid and 30 minutes unpaid). Hours for part-time employees are pro-rated accordingly.

Diversity and Inclusion

The museum pro-actively seeks to collaborate with institutional partners, individuals and networks to realise its commitment to build a culturally diverse workforce. We positively encourage applications from underrepresented groups and consider candidates who are suitably qualified and eligible regardless of sex, race, disability, age, sexual orientation, gender reassignment, religion or belief, marital status, or pregnancy and maternity.

About the Design Museum

The Design Museum is located in London and is the world’s leading design museum. It makes the impact of design visible and is the only place in the UK where the design industry, education and the public can come together to change the way people think about themselves and the future.

Since it opened its doors in 1989 the museum has displayed everything from an AK-47 to high heels designed by Christian Louboutin. It is a registered charity that has staged over 100 exhibitions, welcomed over six million visitors and showcased the work of some of the world’s most celebrated designers and architects including Paul Smith, Zaha Hadid, Jonathan Ive, Miuccia Prada, Frank Gehry, Eileen Gray and Dieter Rams.

On 24 November 2016, The Design Museum relocated to Kensington, west London. Leading architectural designer John Pawson converted the interior of a 1960s modernist building to create a new home for the Design Museum giving it three times more space in which to show a wider range of exhibitions and significantly extend its learning programme.

In July 2020, the Design Museum was awarded nearly £1 million National Lottery funding through the Arts Council’s Emergency Response Fund.

Our vision, purpose, mission and values

Our vision

Our vision is a world where everyone values design

Our purpose

The purpose of the Design Museum is to make the impact of design visible

Our mission

  • To build public awareness of design by connecting design with people’s lives and passions
  • To reflect the designer’s role at the forefront of social, technological and environmental change
  • To serve the design community. Design is a practice, a diverse discipline, infinitely rich in approaches and characters. It is a young discipline, whose role in the world is evolving. Our unique approach to working with designers is to invite them to ‘think in public’

Our values

The museum’s core values are collaborative, welcoming, enterprising and forward looking.


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