Major summit to explore future of NI’s £2bn grocery industry

RETAIL: DWF’s Julie Galbraith, Partner/ Northern Ireland Head of Real Estate and Retail, Food, and Hospitality, Ken Rutherford, Executive Partner and Bill Penton, Managing Director Penton Exhibitions at the launch of the Neighbourhood Retailer Summit.

A major new NI retail conference and exhibition is set to take place this November, bringing together a strong line-up of international speakers who will share their knowledge of retail excellence and provide practical advice on how to address the many challenges facing the sector to achieve successful growth.

The Neighbourhood Retailer Summit, sponsored by the Belfast office of global legal business DWF, will explore the latest trends and challenges affecting the sector, including digitisation, changing consumer preferences such as a rise in food-to-go and plant-based eating, minimising plastics and food waste, rates increases and more. The retail industry is going through a period of change economically and politically and this event will create a platform for lively debate.

Speakers include Jim Clerkin, President and CEO of Moët Hennessy in North America, who will share insights into the company’s global success; Ben Miller, Global Director of IGD who will explore trends including digitisation; Will Stratton-Morris, CEO of Cafe Nero UK who will speak on transforming the customer experience; and John McHugh, Director of Corporate Communications with Kwik Trip Inc (USA), who will advise on how to maximise employee engagement.

Leading consumer and shopper behaviouralist Ken Hughes of Glacier Consulting will share valuable insights into ‘Shopper Centricity’ and Frank Gleeson, President & CEO of Aramark in Northern Europe, will provide guidance on how retailers can adapt to the changing face of retail.

Delegates will also hear from six-time Olympic champion Sir Chris Hoy, MBE, speaking for the first time in Northern Ireland on the topic of ‘Everyday Greatness’.

Northern Ireland’s grocery industry is valued at £2bn, with its growth increasingly being driven by the ‘food-to-go’ market. The UK spent £49 billion on food and drink purchased and consumed outside of the home in 2017, with over 98 per cent of the British public making such a purchase – pub lunches, takeaway coffees, and sandwiches.

The summit will explore how local retailers – including supermarkets, convenience stores, bakeries, delis, forecourts and grocery retailers – can expand their share of this growing market.

The summit will take place in the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Belfast on November 14 and will culminate with the well-established Neighbourhood Retailer Gala Awards Dinner.

The unique event is supported by Retail NI and the Petrol Retailer’s Association and is expected to attract around 500 delegates. The summit will also incorporate a trade exhibition featuring leading manufacturers and innovative service providers for the retail sector.

Bill Penton, Managing Director of event organisers Penton Exhibitions, said: “This event comes at a time of great change and flux within the industry and the wider economy, and will be welcomed by forward-thinking retailers as a valuable opportunity to learn from global leaders and apply these insights to their own business models.

“We are delighted to welcome DWF as a partner for this event, bringing with them an excellent understanding of the retail market and the opportunities and challenges it presents.”

Ken Rutherford, Executive Partner of DWF’s Belfast office, added: “The pace of technological change continues to impact the way retailers operate and how they interact with consumers.

“Whilst there are challenges ahead for the sector, as a global legal business with strong expertise in advising retailers, we recognise the opportunity to influence change is now greater than ever.

“This is reflected in our support for the summit and for the sector in general – helping the retail trade maximise business opportunities, meet commercial objectives, minimise risk and create sustainable growth.”

n For further information and to book tickets for the Neighbourhood Retailer Summit and the Neighbourhood Retailer Awards please visit


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