From Purchase to Profit

Are your Sales and Profit where you want them to be?

Unlocking Retail has over 30 years of Retail experience in Buying, Inventory Planning, Inventory Management, Analysis and Retail Finances. Our Business is helping your Business identify opportunities that help increase both Sales and Profit.

Is your Cash-Flow a continual balancing act?

A healthy, consistent cash flow starts with great planning. Knowing which levers to push and pull and understanding how it will impact your cash-flow is a skill worth learning. Planning the correct inventory goes a long way towards improving cash flow and understanding your cash gaps. 

Do you struggle with Inventory Management?

In any retail business, inventory is the largest investment. The way in which this investment is planned prior to purchasing is crucial to the long-term success of your business. We can help you understand your current Inventory ROI and show you how to obtain consistent and better returns on your largest investment.

Does your retail business feel Out of Control?

No one likes to feel out of control, especially in business. There are consistent steps you can take to get back control of your retail business, even when it feels overwhelming. We can help you navigate problematic areas in your business and have you back in the drivers seat.

Are you unsure of what the "New Normal" in retail will look like?

What is your post COVID-19 retail strategy? Just hoping things will return to normal is not the best strategy. It is best to plan and prepare than to pretend that all will be ok! Unlocking Retail can help you formulate the right forward plan and help future-proof your small business.

Are you running your business? or Is your business running you?

Do you find yourself working so many hours IN your business, that you have no time to work ON your business? It’s no surprise most of the small businesses we work with, feel at times their business is running them. We’ll help you implement better processes, proven strategies and provide you with the tools to help you run your business more effectively.

Learn how we can work together

Request an obligation free

Complimentary Strategy Session

What are our clients saying?


Merrill started consulting with Busby (Guess Australia) in April 2014 following the departure of the Senior Planner. With an initial focus on the retail channel she subsequently also assisted the GM Wholesale with structuring the wholesale buying process. 

Merrill provided vital planning cover during the transitional period and then an important role in setting up an appropriate planning and buying process. She successfully works in an unstructured environment with relatively unsophisticated systems, providing and implementing solutions.

In addition to her excellent technical skills, Merrill has is an engaging personality, who interacted well with all levels of staff. She was importantly able to develop a strong relationship with the new planner and played a significant role in mentoring and developing him.

Overall I believe that Merrill can provide a very effective Planning and Buying solutions, at a cost effective price -making her ideal for SMEs. She can also provide a role in mitigating vacancy risk where lack of cover can have significant impact on future outcomes. 

Merrill continues to provide support to Guess Australia in both Retail and Wholesale channels. I would highly recommend her.

Ciaron Murphy


CEO - GUESS Australia

I have had both the pleasure and have reaped the benefits of partnering with Merrill Allen during my time as General Manager at both Guess and MJ Bale. I engaged Merrill to overhaul the merchandise planning practices and deliver immediate and ongoing value to both businesses.

Merrill has provided planning frameworks that delivered both discipline and transparency that enabled reduced stock holdings, improved forecasting, increased sales and improved profit.

In addition to this, Merrill has also provided mentoring services which have enabled new planners the benefit of an industry expert with more than 30 years experience in retail to fast track their knowledge and planning expertise.

In any retail business, one of the most important roles of a merchandise team is to produce facts and data, analyze the data, provide insights to tell a story about what’s happening and why, and then propose solutions and influence decisions to help grow the business. Working with Merrill enables this to be achieved quickly and effectively and the team have fun doing it, making it an experience that is as enjoyable as it is beneficial to the bottom line.

Any retail business that needs to take control of their stock and wants to build a strong, disciplined and talented merchandise team while improving their profit should engage Merrill without delay.

Shannon Luxford


Chief Commercial Officer

As a growing footwear retailer with a strong wholesale background we needed to apply effective planning and buying systems to cater for the current size of the business and any future expansion.

Merrill has extensive experience both working for large retailers and running her own business. She has implemented multiple business plans to suit our individual departments including a category plan, buy plan and range plan. We are now able to effectively forecast sales, purchases and any sale/promo activity. Merrill is easy to work with and approach if you need further clarification. She has also adjusted our internal systems to ensure we are receiving the correct information to make the right decisions.

We highly recommend Merrill Allen to other retail business owners who need structured planning/buying processes due to either a growing or changing business. We are so impressed with her work ethic we have kept her as a consultant ongoing. Merrill caters to your specific needs and adjusts the methods to best suit your business.

Anthony Bianco


Director - Tony Bianco Shoes

I opened my footwear and apparel boutique in McLaren Vale, South Australia 4 years ago.

As I have spent many years in the retail industry, I was very comfortable with most aspects when opening my own store.

However, before I started working with Merrill, I had no limits or boundaries around my buying. I knew about planning processes and how it can improve your buying decisions, but didn’t know where to start or how to implement this into my small business.

Because I was in South Australia and the workshops were held in Queensland, I participated via Zoom. After my initial hesitation around this concept, I found the process easy and being part of a group from other states was fantastic and very interesting.

Putting the science behind buying was one of the biggest take outs. I can now confidently make critical decisions with supporting facts.

Learning how to clean up, categorize and utilise the data in my POS system has proved invaluable by enabling easier stock entry and stronger more accurate and effective reporting.

There are many practices I will change as a result of the UNLOCKING RETAIL workshops, including paying more attention to Gross Margin, planning the buy to ensure I am buying what I “need” and taking the emotion out of the process to help me make better business decisions.

It was great working with Merrill, her experience and passion for retail is amazing and is happy to go above and beyond to share her knowledge.

If you are an independent retailer wanting to give yourself the best chance of success, via learning more about retail finances and planning, I would absolutely recommend working with Merrill.

Elle Brown


Owner - Gorgeous Soles

Our Client List