Integra Business Solutions hosted over 200 delegates at its 2022 ‘Strength Through Unity’ National Conference. The event held at The Hilton, St Georges Park, on November 17, also marked a significant milestone – 25 years – in the group’s history
Integra CEO Aidan McDonough opened the conference, welcoming everyone and tabling the order of events. His opening address which included an Integra update and industry overview was upbeat and positive. McDonough spoke about each of the group’s wider business areas and explained how a diversified services portfolio generates additional incremental revenue. In particular, he shared plans to further extend the reach of the group’s own brand Initiative – which will mark its 25 year anniversary in 2023 – into more areas overseas. He also announced a further price freeze and confirmed a commitment to further investment in the brand.
“There are lots of challenges at the moment from consolidation, rising inflation and ongoing supply chain disruption,” he said. “All of which require you to be more customer focused than ever before, to be agile and to pivot,” he counselled.
He spoke about the opportunities around sustainability and the importance of acting now to ensure compliance with ESG requirements. “You can’t ignore this,” he warned, adding: “We’re here to help and that’s why we introduced the Green Initiative, a self-serve portal to enable you to calculate your carbon footprint and why we are working with Planet Mark.” Aidan McDonough also advised that the group was evaluating all products in the Initiative range, taking steps to reduce packaging and to include carbon calculators on each SKU, providing valuable data that members can share with their customers.
The morning saw a series of keynote addresses from Darren Renshaw, Dealer Development Director at VOW Wholesale; Steve Malkin, CEO, Planet Mark; and Keynote Speaker & Business Growth Specialist, Kevin Riley. Then after lunch, guests enjoyed an insightful business session led by Darren Washbourne, CCO, Beeswift.
The supplier exhibition provided a further opportunity for resellers to connect with 47 of the industry’s leading suppliers including SYNAXON, Brother, JGBM, UFP, Antalis and VOW Wholesale.
The Integra team were also on hand to talk shop with members. One of the highlights was the announcement that all those in attendance would receive a guaranteed 10% rebate on Initiative stationery purchased in December as well as a 25% discount on their December membership fees.
The day closed with an audience with Kevin Keegan, OBE, one of the most recognisable faces in British football. Keegan captivated the audience’s attention with his most entertaining speech, there were lots of ‘laugh-out- loud’ moments as he spoke about his career at clubs including Liverpool FC and Hamburger SV, numerous run-ins with Manchester United, and his time spent managing Newcastle United, Fulham and Manchester City.
Gala dinner and awards
Everyone came together at the black tie Gala dinner to celebrate the winning members together with the group’s 25th anniversary.
Kevin Keegan joined Aidan McDonough on stage, to present the awards.
Account Manager of the Year was won by Wendy Goodman, Beeswift, Acco Brands was named Manufacturer of the Year, and the 2022 Wholesaler/Distributor of the Year was JGBM.
The winners of the 2022 Member of the Year Awards are Alliance Division: Pentland Format Office Supplies; Directory Division: Ace Office and Gold Division: Bishops.
McDonough said: “Our 2022 member award winners have all demonstrated exceptional service to customers and outstanding support to the group including the Initiative own brand and our key partners, most of whom joined us to congratulate them on the night.
It is a pleasure to be able to present these awards to recognise members and their teams who work so hard to make their businesses a success.”
After dinner entertainment was provided by award-winning comedian Rod Woodward, an outstanding show featuring some of the best performers in the industry, including singers and dancers from the West End, followed by a silent disco.
During the gala dinner, guests were invited to donate to this year’s nominated charity UNICEF. They raised an incredible £1,500 which Integra rounded up to a massive £2,500 – money that will help the charity continue to provide life-saving food, clean water and medical supplies in worn torn countries such as Ukraine, Yemen and Syria.