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‘Fit for the future’ theme at October forum

BHETA Forum image

Kieran McBride, Fenwick’s Director of Buying for furniture, home and food was the headline speaker at BHETA’s most recent networking forum on 31st October and he opened his presentation by outlining the changes that have been taking place at the family-owned store group to make it ‘fit for the future’.  It was a theme that resonated with the packed house of delegates as all the speakers at the event took ‘making changes for a better future’ as their theme.

Hosted for the first time by Seema Grantham, BHETA’s Housewares Sector Manager, the forum kicked off with a presentation from Ian Gilmartin, industry director for retail and wholesale at Barclays. Having pointed out that overall retail spend remained ‘robust’ and rising, he made the point that the challenge is not about lack of custom, but that custom might well present itself in ways that are different from days of old – the trick is being able to navigate the new world.

The second speaker was Dominic Speelman, founder and CEO of Buyfair Global, which Dominic described as ‘a premium B2B version of Ebay – with a twist.’ Created in response to the commercial and environmental challenge of global overproduction, Buyfair Global is an auction site where sellers can choose whom they sell to, thus ensuring that their brands do not fall into inappropriate hands; and buyers can access brands which might not otherwise have been achievable. Inspired by Dominic’s ‘day job’ at Make International, the designer ceramics and homeware store, Buyfair is a genuinely new trading channel, which enables users to address the problem of the world’s one trillion-dollar branded overstock constructively – maximising usage and minimising waste and storage costs.

Phil Pond of trend forecaster Scarlet Opus did touch on colour and pattern and texture, but his thought-provoking presentation focussed on the frustration of consumers at the business world’s perceived slowness to own the challenge of sustainability. Quoting Mark Carney as stating that “firms ignoring climate change will go bankrupt”, Phil explored the potential of recycled materials for product and packaging manufacture; products which help consumers to create less waste; products repurposed to focus on dietary change and the so-called ‘reduceatarian’; and conservation gifting. The implications of these trends for marketeers, stylists and overall corporate social responsibility were key.

Another speaker to respond to the challenge of current thinking on over-production and waste was Dan Black, co-founder and lead designer at Black & Blum.  Charting the history of product design at Black & Blum, Dan focussed on the importance of ‘products with soul’ – products which are needed and used; products which are not guilty of jumping on various bandwagons, or of greenwashing.  Using examples of his own company’s product development, he illustrated not only the importance but also the practical possibility of creating products which are ‘built to last’ even in everyday use, in re-usable packaging, which do not go out of date, but improve with age and achieve iconic antique status.

BHETA’s Chief Operating Officer, Will Jones commented, “Retailing continues to move fast, driven by the evolution of different shopping habits and consumer attitudes.  This forum was a unique insight into the opportunities for the future. “

For more information about future BHETA events and the benefits of BHETA membership in general contact BHETA’s member services manager, Nicola Adams Brown on

Source: BHETA, November 2019



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