Retra, the UK electrical retailing trade association, celebrated its 80 years of activity during the latest Retra Conference. The event saw the presence of a lot of guest speakers, including Amdea CEO, Paul Hide, Bsh CEO, Gunjan Srivastava, Chris Brook-Carter, CEO of the Retail Trust, and Martyn Allen, technical director of Electrical Safety First (ESF).
The “Challenge of Change” was the main theme of the conference, and involved some important hot topics such as retailing in the ‘new normal’, sustainability, direct selling and the future of the high street. «Many manufacturers and their retail partners – said Paul Hide, Amdea CEO – have enjoyed record sales over the past two years and that is something that probably none of us would have predicted when we locked down for the first time two years ago. It is recognised that this strong growth cannot continue for ever. We must also face the 2022 realities of global supply disruptions, microchip and semiconductor shortages, inflationary price rises and record levels of squeeze on household disposable incomes.»
In his opening keynote speech, Retra CEO, Howard Saycell, expressed his disappointment that electrical retailers weren’t classed as essential during the pandemic, but highlighted how Retra members had excelled themselves during the crisis. «What was really encouraging during the whole pandemic was the creativity of the independents. When some of the big retailers closed their doors – some even stopped delivering and installing – our members stepped up to the plate» – he said.