The UK’s largest dealer buying group Integra Business Solutions, held its Get Connected National Conference 2016 at The East Midlands Conference Centre on September 15
Turnout each year is always high and this year was no different, over 230 delegates from some of the UK’s leading dealerships attended. As with any owner-managed business, taking time out of the office needs to have an intrinsic value and the general consensus amongst those that attended was that the opportunity to get together with like-minded dealers, network and share ideas in a non-competitive environment, and take best practice back into their business, is one of the biggest benefits that Integra membership affords.
Designed to encourage dealers to ‘get connected’ to customers and new business opportunities, the day opened with an insightful keynote address from Integra CEO Aidan McDonough. Beginning with a market overview, he described the current landscape, saying that the pace of change is more rapid than ever before. He cited the rise of the ‘super dealer’ (a result of recent mergers and acquisitions), the fact that Amazon is muted to enter the B2B space, the digital revolution, and the impact of Brexit on exchange rates and the resultant pricing volatility, as examples of recent developments that pose a number of challenges and opportunities to members.
“There is huge strength in the independent channel,” he said, adding: “You are significantly more flexible and agile than large, corporate organisations and can change rapidly, don’t underestimate the power of your relationships.”
The agenda included a number of practical business sessions and workshops. Martin Wilde from MWA Research provided an overview of the market, values, margin trends and sales volumes through 2015. Barrie Hayes, CEO, BPGI llp delivered a compelling presentation focusing on how delegates can connect to and win key accounts and Joel Harrison, Editor-in-Chief at B2B Marketing talked about how members can reinvigorate their marketing activities to connect with existing customers as well as new prospects.
Gary Partridge of Lexington Corporate Advisors hosted a session entitled ‘Planning your exit strategy’ and Steve Bilton, Managing Director, Evolution Software demonstrated the company’s new webstore.
This year’s guest speaker was Gilan Gork, South Africa’s most renowned mentalist and he closed the day with a powerful, thought-provoking and extremely entertaining presentation.
The four-hour long Get Connected Supplier Exhibition was packed, members took the opportunity to engage with all of the suppliers who attended, to talk through new products, promotions and special offers, as well as network with their peers.
This year’s exhibition housed 65 key supplier partners across all industry sectors including office products, furniture, retail and education, through to 3D print, MPS and IT services.
During the exhibition, members were asked to vote for the Best Dressed Stand and the Product of the Show. Antalis scooped the award for Best Dressed Stand and Sigel were nominated for the Product of the Show award.
Integra presented the Initiative Awards at the black tie gala dinner. Entertainment was provided by digital close-up magician Tom London who wowed guests with the most amazing tricks. Dubbed the iPad magician, he seamlessly merged both traditional and modern magic, performing a multitude of illustrious sleight of hand and misdirection. His digital illusions involved pulling an iPhone (and more) out of an iPad! And a talented balloon artist created mini balloon caricatures for guests both pre and during dinner.
After dinner entertainment was provided by comedian Simon Evans, who has appeared on the Michael McIntyre Roadshow, Live at the Apollo and Mock the Week among other highlights and live music by talented band So lot of funk.
£2,000 was also raised on the night which will be split equally between two very deserving charities, Cancer Research and CLIC Sargent.
2016 AWARD WINNERS
Manufacturer of the Year Award:
Wholesaler/Distributor of the Year Award:
Member of the Year Initiative Awards:
Each year Integra recognises members for their ongoing support and for excelling in what they do. This year’s winners were:
Alliance Member of the Year:
COG Member of the Year:
Bennett Workplace Solutions
Directory Member of the Year:
PBS Business Solutions Ltd
Gold Member of the Year:
Lomas Office Furniture and Stationery Ltd