Visitors to the National Convenience Show this year will also have the opportunity to attend the Association of Convenience Stores Summit, with both events running alongside each other under the same roof. This means retailers can reap the rewards of the two must-attend events in one go when they head to the Birmingham NEC at the end of this month.
The ACS Summit, which will be held on March 1, attracts everyone from the smallest independent store owner to the largest wholesaler. Says ACS chief executive James Lowman: "At Summit we'll have independent retailers, multiple groups, wholesalers, suppliers everyone who is a serious player in the future of the industry will be there."
9-10am Registration and Coffee
10-11.20am Changing Face of Competition Speakers: Ken McMiekan, CEO, Greggs Manuel Biota, director, Carrefour James Lowman, CEO, ACS
11.40-12.50pm Store Challenge
1.30-2.40pm Breakout session 1 - Choose one of the following three topics:
a) So, you think you're a community retailer?
b) Convenience in 2014
c) Fuels of the future
2.50-4pm Breakout session 2 - Choose one of the following three topics:
d) Big Brands or Fine Foods? The way forward for smaller stores
e) Selling News & Mags in a Digital Age
f) Local and Vocal a rallying call for retailers to stand up and be counted
Ultimately, the Summit is all about debate, James says. "You don't just sit there and listen; you get to put across your views by questioning the speakers, voting on key issues and, for the first time, taking part in breakout sessions to really get into the detail."
He believes this year's line-up of platform speakers is its best ever. Confirmed speakers include: Ken McMeikan from Greggs; Manuel Biota, md of Carrefour's c-stores, who will be talking about the changing face of customers and competition; Richard Reed from Innocent; and TV personality and grocer Gregg Wallace, to discuss the winning businesses of the future. The event will be chaired by broadcaster John Stapleton.
Visitors can participate in two breakout sessions, each of which features three different topcis to choose from. The topics include: So you think you're a community retailer?; Convenience in 2014; Fuels of the future; and Selling News & Mags in a Digital Age. "We're conscious that a one-size-fits-all approach won't work," says Lowman, "so the two blocks of breakout sessions allow people to choose whether it's to opt for one session or both, take a long lunch to meet contacts, or check out the National Convenience Show."
Another innovation is the Store Challenge, in which retailers and suppliers get together. "We're aware that retailers and suppliers do a lot of work together on the ground. We wanted to showcase how such work can benefit the whole store," says Lowman.
The retailers and suppliers taking part in the challenge have worked together for several months on their bids, and the three best ideas have been shortlisted by an independent panel. Their ideas have been filmed to be shown at the Summit, where delegates will decide who wins through a live audience vote. "It's our own Shop Idol," says James.
Following a day of engagement and debate, delegates can then enjoy the ACS Comedy Night, which features some exciting names on the circuit.
"No black-tie dress code, no formality, just a fun and relaxing evening hosted by top stand-up Dominic Holland with a bunch of up-and-coming comics who I think you'll be hearing a lot more from," Lowman concludes.
To book online for the Show or the Summit, go to www.nationalconvenienceshow.co.uk.