Merchant and supplier to lead debate at THE Conference

What will be the key growth opportunities for merchants and their suppliers over the next few years – and what do they need to do to ensure they exploit these opportunities? This will be the broad theme of an important new feature at THE Conference 2008 in Tenerife on June 26-29.

Merchant and supplier to lead debate at THE Conference

Two leading industry spokesmen will host a debate on the strengths and weaknesses of the merchant industry – all with an eye on future growth. Simon Blaxill, md of the leading East Anglian merchant chain Kent Blaxill, and Paul Hetherington, md of the Alumasc building products division responsible for the Pendock range of profiles and cubicles, will give delegates the chance to listen too – and participate in – a major review of the market and its prospects.

Organised jointly by Builders Merchants Journal with the BMF, Unimer and NMBS, THE Conference is now by far the most important business and social event in the merchant market.

“Over the past few years, nearly all speakers at THE Conference have been people from outside the merchant market and building products industry: economists, researchers, journalists, motivational speakers and so on,” said BMJ publisher Colin Petty. “We felt it would make a refreshing change to involve people from within the industry, who can present perspectives and opinions that reflect the views of the audience.”

Mr Blaxill and Mr Hetherington will jointly present a personal view of the merchant market, addressing key issues like:

  • Which are the product areas most likely to see above-average sales growth over the next few years?
  • What are the factors beyond the building products market which will support that growth?
  • How can merchants and suppliers maximise the opportunity created?
  • How can suppliers and merchants best support each other in achieving maximum growth?
  • How can merchants best protect their market share – and maybe take some share from other distribution channels?
  • Other speakers include financial journalist and economic commentator Anthony Hilton, who was a big hit at last year’s event; and motivational speaker and memory man David Thomas, who will close the business session on Saturday morning. And of course the whole event is overseen by the celebrity gameshow host Nick Hancock, who has long-running stints as host of Room 101 and They Think It’s All Over to his credit, as well as Nick Hancock’s Fly Fishing School on the Discovery Channel and more recently Win My Wage for Channel 4.

    For the social programme, there is the customary Thursday golf tournament, the day before the conference starts. Venue is the Adeje course, close to the hotel. And for non-golfers there is a choice of Jeep safaris: a half-day trip to Tiede National Park, or a full-day tour to the La Orotava valley in the north of the island. On Friday, partners who don’t want to sit in on the business sessions have the choice of a full-day coach trip to Tiede and the ‘Northern Wonders’, or a half-day shopping trip to nearby Santa Cruz. And on Saturday afternoon, after the conference closes, there’s the chance to get out into the open sea and maybe catch sight of a whale or some dolphins aboard THE Conference’s own private catamaran.

    Thanks to the level of sponsorship support, merchants booking for this year’s conference will pay no more than last year – even though the event has upgraded to its best venue ever. Delegate rate for NMF/Unimer/NMBS members remains £350 per person for the first couple and £799 per person for the second couple. There’s still time to book – to find out more, or to book for the event, visit the conference website:

    About Fiona Russell-Horne

    Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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