NMBS reveals plans to ‘automate and innovate’ at conference

Senior members of the NMBS team have revealed how the buying society aims to ‘automate and innovate’ to build on its success, at the recent NMBS Conference.

The Conference took place at the Grand Hotel Dino in the surroundings of Lake Maggiore, Baveno, Italy. Over 500 delegates attended the three-day event, which focused on collaboration, knowledge sharing and networking.

MD Chris Hayward, FD Julie Langford and Commercial Director Andy Hextall outlined NMBS’ plans to ‘automate and innovate’. The buying society is aiming to complement its core activities with an increased focus on maximising digital technology and best practice data management in order to achieve a turnover of £3 billion within five years.

Following the NMBS team, a line-up of respected speakers delivered presentations covering a variety of topics pertinent to the opportunities and challenges faced by merchants and the wider merchanting sector today.

The conference included ‘Meet the Merchant’ networking sessions, enabling delegates to book ten minute appointments with contacts of their choice.

The conference’s two keynote speakers were:

Kevin Gaskell, whose many notable achievements include leading the turnaround of the UK operations of Porsche and helping BMW (GB) to achieve record growth and a 500% increase in profitability, spoke about inspired leadership and how this can be used to deliver world class service and achieve business transformation.

Hamish Taylor, who has worked in brand management for P&G (Procter & Gamble), as a management consultant at PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers), as head of brands at British Airways and as CEO of both Eurostar and Sainsbury’s Bank, spoke about his success in helping these businesses to achieve either significant growth or a major turnaround in performance thanks to his willingness to challenge industry and organisational norms.

Further conference speakers and their subjects included:

  • Mark Berrisford-Smith, economist, who spoke to delegates on the UK and global economic outlook before taking part in a Q&A session.
  • Georgie Barrat, tech journalist and presenter of Channel 5’s ‘The Gadget Show’, who spoke about millennials and how to get the best from this new generation of talent.
  • Vit Kutnar, founder and CEO of DEK – the largest distributor of construction materials in the Czech Republic and the second largest in Slovakia. Vit spoke about the innovative approach that has helped him to take DEK from a standing start to a £650M business in 25 years.
  • Neil Munz-Jones, director and founder of mdj2, who offered insight into digital disruption on the building materials market and how merchants can effectively compete with businesses like Amazon.
  • Andy Scothern, managing director of eCommonSense, who spoke about effective data management and the tangible impact this can have on commercial success.
  • David Meade, keynote speaker, trainer and TV personality, who inspired the audience with his ability to tell people what they were thinking from subtle nuances in behaviour.
  • Jez Rose (pictured), who spoke about how a small shift in the way we think can deliver enormous benefits in the results we achieve.

Day 3 also saw John Newcomb, CEO of the Builders Merchants Federation, announce Dubrovnik as the location of next year’s BMF All-Industry Conference before Jez Rose brought the conference to a close.

NMBS Commercial Director Andy Hextall said: “We’re delighted that this year’s event was so well attended and that the feedback received from delegates has been nothing short of exceptional. Many of them have praised the conference as being our best to date and also commented favourably on the calibre of the speakers and on the relevancy of their content.

“I would like to thank everyone who made the trip to Baveno and trust that they found the three days to be useful and commercially beneficial. In addition, I’d also like to thank our event partners, First Event and the NMBS events team for their excellent work in organisation everything.

“Finally, our appreciation and gratitude must also go to all the sponsors whose commitment and support help make the conference possible. This includes headline sponsor Makita as well as IKO, Alumasc Water Management Solutions, Encon, Marsh Industries, Dickies, HiKoki and Crystal.”