JEM Retail Consultants providing services in buying and merchandising, Programme Management, IT services and Logistics & Warehousing.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Was It Worth It?

My colleagues and I at JEM Retail Consultants recently took an Exhibitor stand at the Retail Week Technology Summit. Was it worth it, what did we learn, and would we do it again?

The Interim Survey Report 2013 published by Executives Online reports that 62% of interim managers generate new opportunities themselves, with the remaining 38% relying on interim or recruitment providers. "The provider share of assignments has remained virtually constant in all Executive Online's surveys conducted over the past six years".

When it comes to finding the right interim manager the survey goes on to report that clients and interims connecting directly is the most prevalent method of engagement but the use of agencies has grown: "However, many more clients in 2013 - 47%, almost half - reported they'd prefer to use a recruitment or provider company of some sort, up from just 25% in 2011.

In my own experience, referral has been a far more important source of new assignments. I have successfully completed 5 contracts since I became an interim in 2006. Only one of these has been as the result of going through an agency, the rest have been the result of be referred by people I have worked with in the past. Most of my contact with agencies has, in fact, been as a recruiter rather than candidate.

One of the reasons that Jane, Erica and I established JEM earlier this year is that we have worked together in various combinations on 3 of these contracts, most recently the replacement of all the key operating systems at The Jacques-Vert Group, so we know there is a demand for our combined services. The reason we attended the Retail Week Technology Summit was to meet more retailers directly and make our name better known. We want to reach the 47%.

So how did it go for us and what did we learn? Well, there were one or two issues from the outset. Our stand was positioned next to a coffee area, which we thought was a good idea. Unfortunately the venue also served coffee immediately outside the main meeting area with the result that delegates obtained refreshment and then resumed their seats without venturing as far as us. The same happened at lunch time leaving us rather lonely.

A quiet word with Andrew Walker from the EMAP team sorted this out with the added benefit that the drinks reception that evening was restricted to the area of our stand. Andrew and the rest of the team from EMAP were, in fact, very helpful throughout the two days. Very useful for event novices such as ourselves.

So what did we gain from the summit? Well, we made some great new contacts meeting people from retailers such as Mammut, GOoutdoors, and Gap. We had the chance to discuss some interesting partnership opportunities with leading hardware and software suppliers as well as Syntel, a US based multi-national provider of integrated technology and business services.

Would we do it again? This particular event, probably not, but we did talk to the EMAP team about some other opportunities and I think we'll be taking advantage of those in the near future. We are also looking forward to the forthcoming Retail Business Technology Expo (RBTE) next March, where we have already booked a stand.

If nothing else it was a great opportunity to compare promotional freebies with the other Exhibitors!

Written by Mike Gamble: Director JEM Retail Consultants.

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