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World Retail Congress concludes in Barcelona

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The very first World Retail Congress closed on March 30 following a three-day programme of plenaries, business seminars and awards which saw more than 1,000 senior retailing professionals from 50 nations attend, including delegates from Brazil, China, Dubai, France, Germany, India, Japan, Kuwait, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States. Many of the leading international organisations associated with retail also attended the event, including World Bank (via IFC), WTO, UNCTAD and European Commission.

A total of 129 professionals addressed the World Retail Congress, including some of the most successful figures in retail today, such as Sir Terry Leahy, CEO of Tesco; Terry Lundgren, president of Federated Stores; Pablo Isla Álvarez de Tejera, deputy chairman and CEO of Inditex; BS Nagesh of Shoppers’ Stop; Anders Dahlvig, president and CEO of Ikea; and José Luis Duran, CEO of Carrefour.

Delegates heard Sir Terry Leahy outlining how he had turned the supermarket chain from a purely UK business to a global power in ten years, and commenting that with the opportunities provided by the opening up of new markets, now is the best time ever to be in the retail industry; Pascal Lamy, director general of World Trade Organisation (WTO), warning of the serious political and economic consequences if the latest round of trade talks falter, and that ‘five years of negotiations would disappear’; and José Luis Duran asserting that retailers have nothing to fear from entering emerging markets provided that they have clear local market strategies and are committed to local adaptation and multi-formats tailored to very local markets.

Meanwhile, the first World Retail Awards ceremony saw Inditex crowned as ‘Retailer of the Year’ and IKEA receive the prize for ‘Multi Market Retailer of the Year’. Other winners included Marks & Spencer (Responsible Retailer of the Year); Pantaloon Retail (Emerging Market Retailer of the Year); Sainsbury’s (Marketing Campaign of the Year); American Girl Place (Innovative Format of the Year); Vodafone (Best Use of Technology); and Mall of the Emirates (Retail Destination of the Year). Meanwhile, Ingvar Kamprad, founder and chairman of IKEA; Gordon Segal, founder and CEO of Crate and Barrel; and Masatoshi Ito, founder of Ito Yokado, were inducted into the prestigious World Retail Hall of Fame. Kate Moss was also honoured as the Consumer Icon of the Year, and delivered her acceptance speech by video link to the capacity audience at the Awards.

At the close of the Congress programme, the organisers announced that the second World Retail Congress has now been confirmed for April 9-11, 2008, with Barcelona again hosting the event.

Ian McGarrigle, director, World Retail Congress, comments: “We are delighted with the fantastic response from the retail industry to the idea of the World Retail Congress. It was a truly international event and we have already received very positive feedback on the quality of the speakers, the content and the opportunities for high-quality networking.”

The inaugural event was organised by Emap Communications, with Visa, the Congress headline partner, and KSA (Kurt Salmon Associates) as Awards headline partner. Co-sponsors included CB Richard Ellis, Deloitte and Oracle.

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