The Distributors held their “Thrive” annual National Conference this week in beautiful Port Douglas over 3 days. Over 200 delegates made up of National Retailers, supplier partners & distributor members from around Australia came together to network, learn, create new experiences & have some fun.

The Conference theme of “Thrive” shone through all of the presenters during the business sessions, each with their own take away messages for delegates to apply to their own businesses.

The business session kicked off on Wednesday with Distributors CEO George Tsapoutas providing an update on their performance over the last 12 months, highlighting that the group continues to deliver significant volume growth across all core categories of snacking, beverages & confectionary. George reinforced that this growth has been achieved across all states & territories, a fantastic achievement. One of the key opportunity areas over the next 12 months is through the stabilisation of supply chains to ensure their DIFOT can be more aligned with retailer expectations after a frustrating year where suppliers were still battling with maintaining full supply.

AACS CEO Theo Foukkare then shared the recently released 2022 State of Industry Report, highlighting the strong growth of the convenience channel delivering +7.4% growth. Theo provided insights into the staggering growth being delivered in the Food & Beverage segment, now accounting for 53% of total shop sales & growing at +16.4%. Foodservice had its 6th year of strong double digit growth as retailers continue to invest in their offers, growing at +21% & contributing almost $1.2 billion in sales. Packaged beverages also had a strong year growing at +16.4%, which was driven by the energy category, up +26% on now accounting for 33% of total beverages.

Karen Campbell from MyBrandz Software shared their soon to be launched new App, My BrandzX – a customised retailer ordering system that is integrated into member warehouses to make ordering more streamlined & give time back. Mark McKenzie, ACAPMA CEO provided a detailed overview of the future of Mobility in Australia, the state of play for Electric Vehicles & the significant challenges that industry will face as governments implement very ambitious net zero targets & mandate car manufacturers to cease making traditional internal combustion engines. Mark reinforced that whilst EV’s seem to be gaining momentum, liquid fuels will still make up a very significant portion of energy sales well into the 2040’s – no need for anyone to panic as there are a lot of factors at play.

Closing out the business session was Australia’s very own Olympian & World champion Jacqui Cooper. Jacqui has represented Australia in the sport of Aerial Skiing for 20 years, and she shared her story from the young age of 4, and the wild plan 10 year plan that she followed to become a world champion. There were a lot of highs & a lot of lows over her career, and Jacqui shared her story of believing in yourself, learning to eliminate the noise around you, staying committed & dedicated to your goals irrelevant of obstacles that are thrown at you was the key to winning. Jacqui’s story is truly inspiring & left all delegates ready to tackle any challenge ahead.

The Distributors conference ‘speed dating’ style of the trade show returned this year following its successful introduction in 2022, giving suppliers the opportunity to sit down with customers and explain their product in depth. Two half days of speed dating was well received & very beneficial for everyone participating.

Conferences aren’t easy to organise, well done to George Tsapoutas, Andrew Johnson, Reanan Bagshaw & the entire Distributors team for such a great event. See you in 2024!

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