Almost 250 industry executives spanning 20 time zones took part in a busy and informative opening day at the OPI European Forum Online event today, Tuesday 17 November.
Held as a virtual conference due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the day featured interviews, panel discussions, roundtables and networking chat rooms, all packed into six productive hours.
OPI CEO Steve Hilleard kicked off proceedings with a short introductory address in which he highlighted some of the challenges and opportunities in the business supplies industry. He then went straight into seven back-to-back quick-fire interviews with senior executives from across a variety of channels in the European market. They shared their experiences of the past nine months and how they viewed their specific sectors going forward.
There then followed a panel discussion on The Future of the Business Supplies Industry hosted by Simon Drakeford, CEO of EO Group and Chairman of the UK’s BOSS Federation. Some of the ideas that came out of this session included: our industry has done a terrible job in promoting who we are and what we can do; focus on what you are good at and don’t be overly complex; forge tactical partnerships when you need immediate capabilities; sales teams will be smaller but more efficient and productive.
After a break for networking, the afternoon session began with delegates selecting from one of eight roundtables to participate in. Topics included strategies for growing in the safety and cleaning categories, how to become a ‘modern’ reseller, succeeding on eBay, the post-COVID workplace, and rethinking our ‘industry’.
Day 1 concluded with a Brexit panel moderated by Westcoast Managing Director Alex Tatham. As we near 1 January 2021 without a negotiated trade deal, the panellists provided some tips about how to prepare for potential trading changes between the European Union and the UK. The overriding message was that things are not as complicated as people may think, but you have to be clear about your obligations and responsibilities.
The second and final day of the OPI European Forum Online takes place tomorrow and promises to be equally as relevant. Best-selling author Matthijs Rosman is set to take attendees on a fascinating journey of disruption; there will be more roundtables in which to share thoughts and ideas; and the Forum will wrap up with a summary of the key takeaways and actionable to-do points.
More details about the OPI European Forum Online can be found here.