Builders’ merchants and suppliers heard how sustainability, tackling climate change and lowering dependency on natural resources must be top of the industry’s agenda at FEST Congress, in Lisbon, last month.
Newly-appointed FEST (European Federation of Sanitary and Heating Wholesale Trade) President, Edgar Aker, tackled the issue in his first address to an audience of more than 150 delegates at the European trade body’s 57th annual event.
NMBS attended the event, held on 22-24 September, with a delegation including the organisation’s Chief Executive Officer Chris Hayward, Trading Manager Baljit Singh, and its Lightside Committee. They joined attendees from 14 countries, with manufacturers, distributors and wholesalers from the heating, ventilation, air conditioning (HVAC) and sanitary industries represented.
NMBS CEO Chris Hayward said: “Our sector is feeling the dual impact of recession in the UK – and likely soon Europe – as well as a climate change emergency. It was fantastic to attend an event where these issues were so central to discussion, producing a consensus from the HVAC and sanitary delegates, as well as attending merchants, that we must be leading the change to more sustainable practices in our businesses.”
The event culminated in FEST Federation announcing its new President Edgar Aker, from Solar Netherlands, and Vice President Dobrochna Kasperek, from Sanpol Poland, who are both in post for a two-year term.
President Edgar Aker said: “We are in a dynamic political, financial and economic environment and FEST will have a strong focus on sustainability, accelerating the steps to lower the dependency on natural resources. We will support and guide our members and industry partners in this dramatic and exciting transition.”
Vice President, Dobrochna Kasperek spoke on the importance of improving diversity in the industry, also adding: “We look forward to a stronger FEST, building on the positive energy seen at this Congress, supporting the network of wholesalers to become industry leaders in driving the sales of sustainable products that Europe needs to help solve the climate crisis.”
Under the theme of ‘Transformation of the customer experience’, speakers Nancy Rademaker, Pascal Coppens, and industry expert David Moody assessed the business trends of the digital customer journey, AI, Big Data and the power of China.
Chris Hayward added: “NMBS members and suppliers benefitted greatly from hearing leading speakers offer their insight into how to improve customer experience. Topics focused on why mirroring China’s approach to developing mobile-first applications for ordering can drive more purchasing and profits, as well as exploring how AI can be used to look for patterns in buying and selling – using data for improving user experience and maximising sales.
“We look forward to further collaborating with FEST in the future and congratulate President Edgar Aker and Vice President Dobrochna Kasperek in their appointments.”
For more information on FEST Federation, visit festassociation.eu.