Tuesday, June 18, 2024

The Distributors Conference trading Tomorrow and Beyond

The Distributors held its national conference for distributors, product and service suppliers, and retailers on 13-16 May at the Hyatt Regency Sydney.

The Distributors CEO George Tsapoutas.

The three-day conference opened with the first day conference on The Jackson cruise sailing on Sydney’s harbour. The Distributors CEO George Tsapoutas welcomed delegates and presented an update on business performance, growth of its e-commerce platform with plans to continue improving, and also investing in training and development of its frontline sales team.

“The Distributors vision is to be the first choice for both customers and suppliers in the FMCG supply chain,” Mr Tsapoutas told delegates. “Our strategic objective is to provide national coverage with localised service.”

The Distributors was recognised as Supplier of the Year 2023-2024 by AACS (10 years running), UCB, NSG, Metro, APCO and bp, which Mr Tsapoutas attributed to The Distributors providing great service.

The first day of the conference saw keynote presentations featuring an IR update from ACAPMA Executive Manager, Employment & Compliance Elisha Radwanowski on employment compliance and changes in labour laws and their impact on businesses. MyBrandz founder Karen Campbell provided an update on new software features for the company’s sales and marketing app. AACS CEO Theo Foukkare delivered a state of the industry update on retail sales growth in the convenience channel, consumer preferences, inflation and retail spending trends, and competition in the sector. The Distributors National Supplier and Customer Relationship Manager Andrew Johnson provided an update on e-commerce sales and supplier partnerships. GS1 Australia Principal Advisor Melanie Wishart delivered a GS1 update on the 2D barcode, using QR codes for supply chain management and product authentication, food safety and traceability, and digital labelling in Australia. While Adam Spencer provided deep dive insights into AI technology advancement and its transformative power.

The second day of the conference saw the launch of the Pitch Deck speed-style meetings throughout the day, along with the opening of the Mini Mart exhibiting the latest offerings across the snacks, confectionery, novelty, healthy options, and beverage categories.

Hyundai Australia Senior Manager of Future Mobility Scott Nargar presented a keynote presentation on Hyundai Future Mobility.

Smith’s hosted a ‘Chicken or Cheese’ themed dinner at Dockside, Cockle Bay Wharf for a fun-filled evening of culinary delight and camaraderie, along with an entertaining magic show.

The final day saw the Pitch Deck meetings continue throughout the day.

Independent Food Distributors Association of Australia CEO Richard Forbes provided an update on food industry advocacy and policy changes, supply chain resilience and government support. He highlighted the importance of a national food security strategy and the Alliance’s role in advocating for it.

The Distributors Gala Awards: an evening of celebrating industry

The Distributors held its black-tie Gala Awards in recognition of Member Service Awards along with the Supplier of the Year Awards on 16 May at the Grand Ballroom of the Hyatt Regency Sydney.

The Distributors Board Chairman Brett Barclay in his opening remarks outlined industry changes and recognising distributors’ achievements. Mr Barclay highlighted the success of The Distributors Conference and said the Pitch Deck sessions received positive feedback.

He emphasised the importance of collaboration between distributors, retailers, and suppliers to drive success in the current environment.

“What drives success is working together with the retailers and suppliers. And the idea is to drive outcomes for the consumer,” Mr Barclay said. “The consumer drives the businesses forward and it’s becoming increasingly impacted with regards to the ‘tightening of belts.’”

Mr Barclay shared the recent announcement with Tony McIntosh selling his business and his share of the business with The Distributors Brisbane to Craig Bain and Stuart Hobbs of Accredited Distributors following 21 years as the Managing Director of The Distributors Brisbane. Mr McIntosh remains a director of Beach and Bush Distributors for 15 years, and nine years at The Distributors Cairns.

He also shared the announcement with Carl and Vanessa Noone who recently sold J&A Wholesalers in Canberra to JB Metro.

Mr Barclay also highlighted George Tsapoutas’ leadership and growth of the business over the years. As the business has grown, the team has delivered strong results under Mr Tsapoutas’ leadership over the years, Mr Barclay said.

He thanked The Distributors Board Craig Bain, Bruce Spiteri, Stewart Roberson, Joshua Sherlock, and Trevor Allison (who stepped down in November as part of the rotational), for their support and direction.

“We’re getting hit harder and harder by competitors and we can’t continue with the status quo,” Mr Barclay said. “We’ve got to continue to adopt change and adapt to that change that comes in the market.”

Member Service Awards

5 years JB Metropolitan Darwin

10 years JB Metropolitan Adelaide

15 years Beach & Bush Distributors

15 years Harcher Distributors Perth

25 years Coffs Cordial & Confectionery.

Supplier of the Year Awards

Supplier of the Year – $1 million to 5 million

Nominees: Cooks, Lactalis, LeVel, and Remedy

Winner: LeVel.

Supplier of the Year – $6 million to $20 million

Nominees: AIT, Bundaberg, CTC, and Jacks Links

Winner: Bundaberg.

Best New Beverage Product Launch 2023 and 2024

Nominees: V Refresh Green Apple, Red Bull Juneberry, Up&Go Banana

Winner: V Refresh Green Apple.

Best New Snack Product Launch 2023 and 2024

Nominees: Twisties Cinnamon Doughnuts, Kettle Bundaberg, Jacks Link Pork Jerky

Winner: Twisties Cinnamon Doughnuts.

Best New Confectionery Product Launch 2023 and 2024

Nominees: Snickers Butterscotch, Twirl, and Kit Kat Milkybar

Winner: Kit Kat Milkybar.

Best New Novelty Product Launch 2023 and 2024

Nominees: CTC Kids Mania Laser Pop, SA Chupa Chups Sour Bites, and Universal Myriad Juicy Drop

Winner: SA Chupa Chup Sour Bites.

Best DIFOT Award

Nominees: Frucor, Red Bull, Smith’s, Snackbrands

Winner: Red Bull 98.6%.

Supplier of the Year – Over $20 million

Nominees: Asahi / Schweppes, Snackbrands, and Universal Candy

Winner: Snackbrands.

Supplier of the Year – Over $50 million

Nominees: Mondelez, Nestlé, Pepsico, and Red Bull

Winner: Pepsico.

The Distributors Group Industry Hall of Fame Award

Nominees: Hassan Kowinader (CTC), Rana Wilkinson (AIT), and Wayne Henderson (Universal Candy)

Winner: Wayne Henderson (Universal Candy).

Sales Representative of the Year

1st Place Renee Creasy

2nd Place Bikram Gaire

3rd Place Ash Hardy.

Member of the Year – Under $20 million

Nominees: Accredited Albury, Aygee, Central Coast Confectionery, J&A Wholesalers, and Kev Baldwin

Winner: Central Coast Confectionery.

Member of the Year – $20 million and up

Nominees: Accredited Dandenong, Accredited Geelong, JB Metro Sydney, Distributors Brisbane

Winner: The Distributors Brisbane.

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