The retailer-backed Fashion Retail Academy is implementing a buying and merchandising system from Oracle Retail in time for its new academic year.

The system will allow students to become familiar with the type of software they are likely to use in their first jobs. Processes covered by the software will include planning, replenishment and pricing and it will draw on a database that Oracle has loaded with dummy data.

Fashion Retail Academy head Karen Dennison said: “They won’t just be looking at printouts of spreadsheets once they are in the workplace, so we are preparing students to hit the ground running.” She admitted that many students arrived with poor numeracy skills and it was important that the college could get them used to working with numbers in such systems before they began their retail careers.

This year, the academy is introducing level 4 diplomas – equivalent to the first year of a degree course – one of which will specialise in buying and merchandising. From 2009, a foundation degree in fashion retail management will also be offered.

Oracle Retail senior industry director (EMEA) Sarah Taylor said that as the curriculum developed, students could use more advanced functionality within the software, such as creating markdown strategies.

The academy has implemented Oracle at the point of sale within its mock-up shop already. Students can practise using an EPoS system as well as understand why it is important to collect data at the point of sale.