Delighted to finally welcome our members in Brussels again!

After two years of pandemic, we were thrilled to meet with our membership in person in Brussels again and exchange on recent developments in the retail sector.

Else Groen, Director General of Independent Retail Europe, welcomed all members and stressed that the continuous dialogue and close cooperation between members and the secretariat is what makes our association successful.

Thomas Nonn, President of Independent Retail Europe, highlighted that all efforts to make our economy more sustainable must take due account of the impact that policy measures have on the ground in practice. Groups of independent retailers are keen on making their businesses more sustainable but they will not be able to if they are disproportionally hit by policy measures.

András Baneth (Public Affairs Council) sparred with members on the efficient advocacy strategies. Henriëtte Hoving and Maurice van Heijningen (Spark Optimus) encouraged members to imagine how they can make disruption work for their businesses. Optimizing and digitalising processes will not be sufficient to keep up with the rapidly emerging new retail models that are enabled by new technologies. Members discussed whether consumers would continue to enjoy shopping in physical stores, the importance of the sector to the EU way of life, and how to make delivery services economically viable in the food sector. Lastly Pascal Coppens delivered a compelling keynote speech on “Can we trust China” depicting the cultural, historical and economical situation of China, and western perception thereof. He invited participants to change lenses whenever they wonder whether they can “trust China”. Economic relations with China will inevitably become increasingly important.

All participants highly enjoyed the opportunity to informally connect in person again. We are looking forward to welcome you in Brussels on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of our association in 2023!