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The first C-Store Connections gets off to a flying start in Dubai
April 2009 saw the 5-star Grand Hyatt Hotel in Dubai play host to the first-ever business forum for small-format retailers. Produced by OpenRoom Events (formerly Downstream Events), C-Store Connections brought together some of the most influential retailers and oil companies across Asia, Africa, the Middle East and the emerging European markets, using a mix of one-to-one appointments, conference sessions and informal networking. 110 delegates from 25 different countries saw new business partnerships forged, and existing ones developed in a stimulating environment, offering them an innovative way to keep ahead in this dynamic sector.
Some big names from the multiple c-store and fuel retail sectors joined the forum, including Petronas and Mesra C-Stores (Malaysia), Oando and Big Treat (Nigeria), The Mansour Group (Egypt), Spinneys (UAE), Emarat (UAE), WOQOD, (Qatar), Spinnach (India), PTT (Thailand) and Petron (The Philippines). International retail equipment and service providers attending the meetings included Oracle, Bäro Lighting, Wanzl, Wincor Nixdorf, Torex, Emerson and Aichinger. Both food-to go and design and branding played an important role at the forum with the likes of Circle Design, ais>BrandLab, Subway, Kudu Restaurants, Coffee Planet and Simply Coffee all participating.
Markus Ehrich, International Sales Director at Bäro Lighting GmbH said, “Your speed-dating event is unique and a very, very effective format. I got face-to-face time with top decision makers, that hadn’t answered my calls or e-mails in two years… If I look at the cost per contact ratio, then it is half the cost we pay for our main shop-fitting fair. I will definitely join next year’s event .”
The event kicked off with a conference chaired by Scott Annan, Director of srcg ltd., a leading retail consultancy. Andy Davis, Trading Director from BP Europe; John Patton, International Franchise Director from Circle K Stores; and Darren Smith of Emarat in conjunction with Robert Onion of Circle Brands, focused on strategies for growth, with a specific focus on design and branding, managing the supply chain, category management and developing a food-to-go offering. The conference was followed by practical 20-minute workshop sessions focussing on epos solutions, energy efficiency, coffee and food-to-go, and trends in retail design.
The rest of the event was dedicated to meeting people: over 800 pre-arranged meetings were set up between retailers and suppliers, followed by an informal social networking program throughout the afternoon and on into the evening. The more relaxed bonding opportunities came in the form of a desert safari with dune-bashing, camel-riding, sand-boarding, and dinner under the stars.
The event was deemed a success and summed up in the words of one delegate, Vivek Nanda of Daily Needs Retail: “Congratulations on a fantastic event. You had a right mix of business, networking, information sharing, discussions and leisure. The event gave a new dimension to the world of C-stores. You and your team have been perfect hosts.”
“The most informative and fruitful event I have ever attended. Well organized and managed and a great opportunity to meet the vendors and retailers across Asia, Africa and Middle East.”
Syed Musharaf, Hascombe Storage, Pakistan
“A comprehensive and well-structured event that served as a platform for networking which will enable Pakistan State Oil to enrich its C-Store Operations.”
Rustom H Mavalava, DGM Non Fuel Retail, PSO
“A good platform to meet people of different industries: I met some prominent leaders and am looking forward to extending our business relationship with them.”
Riyadh Almalik, GM, Tas’helat Marketing Co.
“A fantastic event that brings suppliers and retailers together in a unique format. Credit must go to the OpenRoom Events team for making this event a success.”
Cameron Taylor, Convenience Retail Manager, Shell Oman
“A great opportunity to explore new ideas and trends in the market and to benchmark our current c-stores with local and international markets and trends”.
Fawaz Hasan Hejazi, ADNOC Distribution
“This was a new experience for us and we will see the benefits in time. However we believe it has already benefited us by broadening our vision, exposing us to new horizons and giving us a feel for how things work in several other markets.”
Murat Uysal, Managing Director, Standart TIM, Turkey
“We found this event extremely valuable and have come away with a number of very positive leads. We had 19 meetings over the two days and 18 have invited us to follow up – I wouldn’t like to think how long that would take to organise individually or at what cost!”
Steve Watts, Sales Director Torex
“We were delighted, the event worked well for us, loved the format, your flexibility and your team’s commitment to making it work.”
Aubrey Ghose, Managing Director, ais>BrandLab
The format is ideal. I found it energized, purposeful and reciprocal in that all parties had an agenda; it’s up to you to make sure there was a match!
Alex Russell, Managing Director, SmartAxess
OpenRoom runs a global portfolio of B2B forums and its business model is built around the success of combining networking with focused, pre-matched appointments.
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