The industry heads to Harrogate and York from 4-7 November for the ‘dual-centre’ BMF All Industry Conference. PBM outlines what delegates can look forward to.
The welcome return of industry events over the last few weeks has already seen the merchant sector gather in numbers for large-scale meet-ups such as the NMBS Exhibition and the BMF Members’ Annual Conference and Awards. However, there is perhaps something symbolic about the imminent arrival of this month’s ‘All Industry’ Conference — in many ways, the first opportunity for the whole industry to come together in person following the outbreak of Covid-19.
Indeed, the cancellation in April last year of the 2020 All Industry Conference — set to be hosted by the NMBS in Sorento on Italy’s Amalfi Coast — was indicative of the growing realisation that we would have to contend with the coronavirus for the long-term. And when plans for this year’s event — being held the UK for the first time in almost 30 years — were first announced last autumn, the intention was for it to take place in its traditional early summer slot on the calendar.
As the pandemic continued to wreak havoc, the Prime Minister’s ‘Roadmap to Recovery’ meant that the June dates were an impossibility and so, in March and a full year on from the start of the crisis, the event was moved back to November.
Yet from the outset, there was huge interest in the 2021 Conference, outlining just how the industry’s appetite for vital face to face interaction has remained undiminished over such a transformational 18 months. The event was reported to have fully sold out just eight weeks after its launch, whilst the BMF increased its original allocation of hotel rooms to accommodate 400 delegates. Already being hosted by two hotels in close proximity to one another, more rooms were sourced with a waiting list opened for merchants and suppliers who had initially missed out.
Writing the welcome introduction on the Conference website — www.bmfconference2021.co.uk — BMF CEO John Newcomb and Chairman Richard Hill revealed they were looking forward to a “fantastic event to signal our confidence in the market’s ongoing recovery.”
They said: “The main Conference business will take place at the Yorkshire Event Centre, with a spectacular Gala Dinner close by in the historic city of York. And while we have a very full Conference business programme, there will be ample time to explore some of the County’s delightful historic and breath-taking sights.”
Reflecting on the dramatic period of change since the last ‘All Industry’ event in 2019, the BMF leaders continued: “In the year that the UK begins a new relationship with the European Union, the Conference theme Building Beyond Boundaries could not be more topical as the country looks beyond traditional geographical boundaries to build new trading relationships, and the industry moves beyond the boundaries imposed by the Covid health crisis and responds to Government incentives to Build, Build, Build.”
A key difference to the 2021 Conference programme is the addition of a Supplier Exhibition, replacing the Merchant/Supplier Exchange sessions. However, the three-day event will again feature the ‘traditional’ Friday night dinearounds and a full programme of social activities in addition to a networking welcome dinner on the Thursday and the aforementioned Gala Dinner on the Saturday night.
With plenty of opportunity for networking in both formal and informal setting across the duration, the centrepiece of the event of course remains the Conference programme itself. An impressive line-up of speakers from within the industry and beyond have been gathered together to discuss the key challenges and opportunities as the country moves forward along its new path.
For example, with the pandemic turbo-charging an ecommerce boom, discussions on digital transformation will be high on the agenda. Similarly, the vitally important topic of mental health will be brought to the fore, including a session from mental health champion and former Arsenal and England captain, Tony Adams.
Many respected industry figures will take to the stage to outline their recent experiences from both a merchant and supplier perspective, whilst Andy Mitchell, Co-Chair Construction Leadership Council, will address the cross-sector collaboration throughout the industry which helped ensure construction was at the vanguard of the country’s pandemic recovery. The key subject of recruitment and staff development will also be tackled by Steve Ingham, PageGroup CEO. And as the UK hosts the COP26 summit, sustainability will similarly take its place on the agenda.
Closing the Conference as keynote speaker in perhaps the most literal sense possible will be the Rt Hon John Bercow. With political heavyweights now a staple of the BMF All Industry Conference, the former Speaker of the House of Commons follows luminaries such as John Prescott, Michael Portillo, Alastair Campbell and the late Paddy Ashdown in previous years.
The dual-centre BMF All Industry Conference 2021 — with the theme Building Beyond Boundaries — takes place in Harrogate and York from 4-7 November. Visit www.bmfconference2021.co.uk for more information.
Thursday 4 November
Social programme and evening welcome dinner
Friday 5 November
YEC Conference Centre
09:00 Opening Video followed by introduction to Conference from host Jason Mohammad
09:15 Welcome by BMF Chairman Richard Hill and presentation from CEO John Newcomb
09:30 Kevin Morgan from Headline Sponsor Crystal
09:35 James Mason, Welcome to Yorkshire
10:30 BMF Workshops
A: Digitalisation — Andy Scothern, eCommonSense and David Haldane, Haldane Fisher
B: Marketing — Geoff Ramm and Lucia Di Stazio
Networking break / exhibition
11:45 Steve Ingham, Page Group
12:25 Jamil Qureshi, discussing ‘performance-enhancing psychology’
13:15 Q&A Session
13:25 Networking lunch / exhibition
Free evening at leisure or individual dine arounds
Saturday 6 November
YEC Conference Centre
SESSION THREE — Industry Forum
09:00 Welcome back and introduction from host Martin Bayfield
09:10 Andy Mitchell, Co-Chair Construction Leadership Council
09:25 Nick Roberts, CEO Travis Perkins plc
09:40 Paul Bence, Managing Director, George Bence Group
09:55 Peter Hallitt, Trading Director, Marshalls
10:10 Panel Discussion
10:30 Nicky Moffat CBE, retired Army officer
Networking break / exhibition
11:45 BMF Workshops
C: Sustainability — Michael McGowan, Ibstock and James Mitchell, Kerridge Commercial Systems
D: Mental Health — Tony Adams
12:30 NMBS Launch of 2022 Conference — Andy Hextall, Commercial Director NMBS
12:35 Keynote Speaker — Rt Hon John Bercow
13:20 Summary and close — John Newcomb, BMF CEO
Networking lunch / exhibition
18:30 Depart for offsite Gala Dinner with After Party