RetailFest UK set to disrupt the traditional business event format

With its unique festival format, the event launched with a bang last week, reflecting the demand for a new type of business event

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The inaugural RetailFest UK event took place on Thursday, 22nd June at Oakley Court in Berkshire. Modelled on a music festival, complete with live music, food trucks, tents and pergolas, and even games and a giant bouncy castle, RetailFest UK hosted some of the biggest names in UK retail, bringing them together for a day of interactive learning and relaxed and engaging networking.

“We were all so tired of the same old business events, with stale coffee and dull PowerPoints,” says Adam Plom, Event Director. “We couldn’t help thinking that there must be a better way to do things; a way of bringing our community together that will leave them inspired and buzzing with new ideas and connections. And so, RetailFest UK was born!”

As well as facilitating networking in a fun setting, RetailFest UK also featured some heavy-hitters on its agenda including Geri Hebberd, Senior Director, Future Operational, Asda; Jo Hickson, Head of Labs, Tesco Technology & Group Innovation, Tesco; Stuart Ramage, Head of Digital Strategy & Innovation, Marks & Spencer; Fiona Brown, Director of Digital Transformation, Boots; Darryl Beckford, Chief Architect – eCommerce & Digital, John Lewis Partnership and many more.

Across the Innovation Stage and also the closed roundtable discussions, key themes covered the B Corp journey, getting the most value from your tech, retail innovation, the omnichannel experience, building value-driven loyalty and more.

RetailFest took advantage of the latest events technology, and partnered with Blendology to facilitate networking in a sustainable way. Instead of exchanging business cards, attendees were able to tap their conference badges together to exchange contact information. Over the course of the day, almost thousands of unique connections were made, with each attendee making on average five times the amount of connections they’d make at a traditional event. This innovative networking technology also saved approximately 67 kilos of paper, making business cards redundant.

Attendees left the event with innovative ideas and insights, new and deepened connections with peers, and feeling refreshed after a day spent on the banks of the River Thames.

“I met some interesting people and came away with some thought-provoking points to consider for our business,” says Hilary McNair, International Head Franchise Commercial & Digital Director, at The Body Shop. “Getting into an inspiring environment definitely helps the creative juices to flow.”

“An amazing venue, a conference like no other, and most importantly I’ve come away with some excellent insight and food for thought,” adds Geri Hebberd, Senior Director, Future Operational, at Asda.

As summed up by Kerttu Inkeroinen, Marketing & eCommerce Director, at Lucky Saint, “What a great event and what a wonderful venue – who needs Glastonbury when retail events have this set up!”

With the UK concert and music festivals market estimated to be worth over £2.46 billion (Mintel), the demand for festivals is clear. “Years of Zoom calls and virtual conferences have left people eager for more,” says Plom. “Eager to get away from the office, whether at home or at work; eager to talk to people and brainstorm solutions to their biggest issues; and eager to have more fun!”

RetailFest UK is powered by The Retail Hive, a community of senior executives from the world’s biggest retailers and brands.

Adam Parry
Author: Adam Parry

Adam is the co-founder and editor of www.eventindustrynews.com Adam, a technology evangelist also organises Event Tech Live, Europe’s only show dedicated to event technology and the Event Technology Awards. Both events take place in November, London.

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