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Today’s Group Annual Conference voted a ‘big hit’ by delegates

The Rome Cavalieri Waldorf Astoria was the place to be over the weekend of 7 -11th March for wholesalers and big brand suppliers.

The theme of this year’s conference was ‘Carpe Diem, the popular translation of which is ‘Seize the Day’.

R“We chose this because it’s a ­fitting theme as the UK marketplace begins to surface from five to six years of economic hardship and as everyone now looks to claw back that critical competitive edge and ­seize the commercial opportunities in 2014 and beyond” said Bill Laird,  Managing Director of Today’s Group, in his opening address.

240 delegates – a record for any Today’s conference – attended 20 presentations ranging from a humorous look at wholesaling in Oldham to nonviolent activism and ethical leadership on the World stage. All were thought provoking and inspirational in their different ways and there were also interactive forums and speed dating (networking) events on offer.

Throughout the weekend there was the constant buzz of conversation and good natured camaraderie and, for the first time at any conference, delegates had access to an event app specially commissioned by the Today’s Group, which could be downloaded to a phone or tablet and gave delegates instant access to speaker biographies and personal videos; speed dating calendars; interactive polling during the forums and real time updates on all conference activities.

During their presentations the Today’s team highlighted the successes achieved since the last conference and provided valuable insights into forthcoming plans and profit opportunities.

Christine Cross – independent business adviser & retail consultant and Tom Fender from HIM! provided facts and figures showing the convenience market place expanding and alerted everyone to the opportunities just waiting to be seized by those determined to be successful.

There were invaluable contributions from Accolade Wines (for whom Bill Hardy travelled half way around the World to attend); Nestle Professional and Carlsberg and thanks must go to them and the other sponsors – Tate & Lyle, Boost Drinks, Heineken and CyT UK for once again supporting the conference so generously.

There were wide ranging presentations too from Today’s members: Alfa Wholesale, SERT MST; Wilds of Oldham; Crown C&C and Musgrave Wholesale Partners – all shared with us their ideas on how to overcome adversity and how to succeed in a competitive market place. Their presentations were delivered with a mix of humour and emotion, which had delegates applauding enthusiastically.

The two external keynote speakers could not have been more diverse, nor more thought-provoking or fascinating.

Firstly Debra Searle, who rowed single handily across the Atlantic – not that this was her original plan!

Debra talked about what she learnt about herself during the long, lonely time at sea and how she overcame the extreme challenges she faced. She shared with us how she has since turned what she learnt into every-day advantages. Things like learning ‘to control what you can control and leave aside what you can’t’ and ‘getting  your attitude right and your good head on will make people follow you to the ends of the World’ – and in Debra’s case they still do!*

Arun Ghandi, grandson of perhaps the most iconic 19th century leader, shared his thoughts and views on the concepts of nonviolent activism and ethical leadership in a presentation that had everyone in quiet, attentive and reflective mode. In fact, during his presentation you could have heard a pin drop!

To have been in the audience and heard his simple yet passionate rhetoric was a truly humbling experience.

Bill Laird closed the conference by challenging delegates, with a little help from Elvis Presley to:

“A little less conversation, a little more action please
All this aggravation ain’t satisfactioning me
A little more bite and a little less bark
A little less fight and a little more spark”

…and we can all seize the opportunities on offer in 2014.

And finally, the Waldorf Cavalieri Hotel set high in the hills with stunning views of the city provided the backdrop to what the delegates agreed was a spectacular event brilliantly hosted by the Today’s team.

*You can read more about Debra Searle and her thoughts on harnessing personal challenges in everyday business in the next issue of Today’s Retailer due out on 7 April 2014.


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