The 8th Supplier Conference was the biggest joint Foremost & Alliance show to date, with more members than ever present. “Over 360 people registered to attend,” said Paul Hedges, MD of Foremost Golf. “We had our Foremost Pros, assistants, shop managers and so forth, and more Alliance Pros than ever. Most of our suppliers came too – the exhibition space was full to the rafters!”
Held at the Majestic Hotel in Harrogate, the conference once again provided cutting-edge education for the delegates, with seminars, workshops and advice, as well as unparalleled buying and planning opportunities and some great entertainment.
“We’ve always combined the showcasing and sales aspect of a traditional supplier show, with real insights into to how to grow and develop as a retailer,” explained Hedges. “That’s what makes us unique. The Pros have the chance to learn more about their profession and develop their strategies and management skills, compare notes and network, as well as organising their buying with the suppliers.”
Indeed, there was great depth and diversity in the programme this year. Bill Sanderson, a well-known golf retailer adviser of over 25 years’ experience, returned to the show after his success last year to discuss the 10 power steps to a profitable pro shop. Michael Caulfield, an acclaimed sports psychologist, spoke on the subject of coaching as a profit centre, and Alan Crossan from South African company NS2 Demand Management talked to members about the expansion and management of the Group’s already successful weekly email newsletter – a key method of keeping in touch with customers. There were also highly popular seminars on merchandising, retail management and strategy, marketing, IT for retailers, creativity, sponsorship opportunities and creating a positive environment in the shop. In addition, the Group’s retail development managers were on hand for advice throughout.
The suppliers were spread around the public areas of the hotel, in an informal and relaxed atmosphere ideal for conducting negotiations, and many reported superb results. Leslie Hepsworth, sales director for Srixon Europe, said, “We received excellent feedback and orders through the show, and it was a very positive and promising exhibition for us. I have no doubt we will have a fantastic year through 2006 in partnership.”
Meanwhile, Gareth Jolly, UK & Ireland field sales manager for TaylorMade Maxfli Golf added, “We judge success on financial results and it has been a tremendously successful show for us. I also believe we have started to re-engage with the club pro.”
A Supplier Product Trial Evening was very well-attended. “There were some doubts as to whether the delegates would head for the bar after hours, instead of coming out to the range but two coach loads came!” said Hedges. “I’m sure it boosted the suppliers’ orders, as well.”
As ever, the social side was a crucial ingredient of the show, and at the gala dinner, over £7,200 – the best ever total – was raised for Children in Need and CRY (Cardiac Risk in the Young) via the raffle and auction, which included signed pictures, golf trips and Premiereship tickets. “All in all, it was a great three days, and I’d like to thank all the delegates and suppliers who attended,” said Hedges.