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Article : 5th Annual Mica Exchange Conference a Success

Date: Monday 6th April, 2015

Fifth Annual Mica Exchange – the Whole Story

“Another great event, already looking forward to next year”

The end of March saw the co-operatives now well-known Exchange format return for its fifth gathering, this time in the historic city of York. Suppliers, Mica retailers and staff came together for business, pleasure and to celebrate success.

Mica is celebrating twenty years since its inception in the UK, and a prestigious hotel with a historic feel was selected to reflect that. The Royal York Hotel, set in the centre of York with views of the Minster, gave the event a different twist to previous years which has seen it take place in a converted Scottish Castle, and a 21st Century Welsh hotel with panoramic views of the sea.

Said Mica CEO Steve Ball,

“We know things like parking will always be more challenging in a city centre location, but the luxury and history of the Royal York won us over. We’ve taken the event all across the UK now and each time we’ve tried to best last year’s venue, this is becoming increasingly difficult!”

The weekend began with a private Members Dinner on the Saturday Night featuring a quiz based on the past twenty years of the small screen, which was won by Mr. Unkar Ubhi of Smethwick Mica and Mrs. Joyce Hall of Halls Mica.

On Sunday morning the day began with the Mica AGM, which was followed by Mr. Paul Bagnell of Henkel UK, who was invited to give a presentation on the work done so far in DIY Week / Henkel’s joint project ‘Hand it Over to Henkel’ which is based on Mr. John Horwood’s store, Kennedys Mica Hardware. It went down extremely well and Steve thanked Paul & John for giving their time, and for sharing best practice with other members.

Said Mr. John Horwood,

“This is what Mica is all about. All of us independents working together for mutual benefit not just in marketing and buying but also in store development. Henkel’s support has been great; it’s really shown me that stock analysis isn’t just for the multiples.”

Following the presentation a member forum took place where members were invited to discuss several ideas put forward by their fellow retailers on subjects including web development and succession planning.

After Coffee the Supplier Exchange began, with twenty four Suppliers set up and ready to greet the Mica Members in the Royal Yorks Event’s Centre. As in previous years, a process of ‘slow speed dating’ saw the retailers move around the room from table to table having booked appointment slots with each attending supplier.

Mr. Paul Lycett of Specialist Group, representing his business at the event for the first time called it an “Excellent Day. Great Opportunity to speak to the members with a real finger on the pulse of the industry”. Another newby to the format was AML Connections Group representative Mr. Michael Birch, who commented the Exchange had been “a really great opportunity to put faces to names”.
Returning suppliers were equally good, Mr Jon Lewis of LG Harris summed up several suppliers comments, “The Mica Exchange is a great platform to introduce yourself to members, with the informal meetings a great tool to sell new and existing products.”
The event is as much about building relationships as it is taking orders, as Mr. Nigel Moult of Paroh Ltd added “Today was an excellent way of meeting several key members in one day,building rapport”. Said Mica Nat Accounts Manager Mr. Phil Davies, “Another great event, looking forward to next year already!”

Members were just as enthused, David Hidgcock of David Neill Mica Home & DIY commented, “Excellent opportunity to maintain and develop solid relationships with old and new suppliers.” He added that from the forum and dinners it was “good to meet & share experiences with other Mica members”, something seconded by several other members. Morris Mica Hardware Director Mr. David Morris called the weekend “the most relevant meeting held all year”, whilst Ken Norris of Merlin Mica simply called the event an “informative day, excellent format”. Finally Shirley Haslam of St Annes Mica Hardware in Lytham St Annes added that the day was “not to be missed! A thoroughly enjoyable day, and most informative”.

Official feedback after the event was similar to the comments made on the day, with glowing results as in previous years, said Steve;

“We’re pretty confident it’s the best received trade event in the business, I speak to the suppliers during the weekend and save for the odd niggle with food or parking, the event goes down universally well. After five years we’re still waiting for someone to tell us on their feedback form that they didn’t find the day value for money.”

The figures back up Steve’s positivity. 95% of suppliers said they were likely or very likely to want to attend given a similar cost / event in 2016. All attending suppliers rated the day either good or excellent overall. Almost all the attending suppliers felt the time slots were spot on, with just a couple after a few extra minutes to finish off orders or make notes from their discussions.

Added Michael Ball, Marketing Manager,

“For the last couple of years I’ve sat with one of our suppliers to discuss members digital developments, and therefore being able to sit on both sides of the fence as an organiser and a participant I can tell you it’s a full on day, but at the same time it is so rewarding for both parties.
The members appreciate having the undivided attention of the suppliers for each appointment, raising any issues, taking advantage of special exclusive Mica Member deals, and the suppliers love knowing they have booked slots with each attending member and have the opportunity to take orders where appropriate. The buzz in the room is always great, there isn’t a quiet five minutes except perhaps for lunchtime!”

The Exchange was closed by longstanding Mica member & Retailer Director Mr. Robert Evans of Nibletts Mica Hardware, who thanked those attending and this year’s main event sponsor, Draper Tools.

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