Special report from EUEW General Convention 2019

June 9, 2019

The EDA represents the UK at the European Union of Electrical Wholesalers (EUEW). Each year, as members and affiliates, you have the opportunity to join the EDA-led delegation to the EUEW General Convention where you’ll join almost 300 delegates from across Europe.

EUEW delegates in Brussels 2019

2019 EDA delegation: wholesalers, manufacturers and trade associations 

  1. Chris Gibson, Rexel UK Ltd
  2. Chris Ashworth, CEF
  3. Johanne Stimson, Heat Mat Ltd
  4. Wolfgang Schickbauer, Voltimum
  5. Simon Barkes, BEMCO
  6. Charlie Lacey, Stearn Electric Co Ltd
  7. Mark Ellis, KEW Electrical Distributors Ltd
  8. Glen Krise, Megaman UK Ltd
  9. Tom Meyerratken, Carl Kammerling International Ltd
  10. Margaret Fitzsimons, EDA
  11. Jonathan Cummings, LED Group Robus
  12. Jack Benson, LED Group Robus
  13. Chris Pack, BEAMA

Brussels 2019: EDA CEO, Margaret Fitzsimons’ delegate report 

The Convention combines informative, inspiring and thought-provoking business presentations with the opportunity to network with senior wholesalers and manufacturers. It follows a tried and tested two-day schedule:

  • Thursday evening: arrive for drinks reception and informal dinner;
  • Friday: a full day of presentations topped off with a Gala Dinner, which this year it took place in the magnificent Museum of Fine Arts in Brussels.
  • Saturday: for those who wish to see a bit of the city there was a short walking tour of Brussels on Saturday morning showing us some hidden gems (I’ll bet you didn’t know there was a Jeanneke Pis – the sister of the very famous Mannequin Pis!)

Key messages from the speakers and presentations to download

The presentations were riveting and addressed big, relevant topics that leaders need to be considering when planning for the future. Here are some of they key messages that delegates took away, and you can download the original presentations too:

  1. Circular economy: We were warned about the dangers of expecting linear growth in a world of finite resources and advised to embrace the principles of the circular economy in our business models.
  2. Recycling is not enough and we must be prepared to take strong actions to change our way of thinking and adapt our business and supply chain processes. Manufacturers probably have the biggest part to play here but the wholesaler also has a big role.
  3. Customer Loyalty: How do we get our make sure our customers come first in our business and that we get their attention and keep their loyalty? These are the challenges we face in today’s ‘noisy’ world. A key ingredient is our staff. We were given great examples of how to empower and include them in customer feedback loops to become be our companies’ best ambassadors and assets.
  4. Anti-trust: On a more sobering note, we may unwittingly fall foul of anti-trust legislation due to changes to the way our supply chain operates today.With the blurring of the lines of the three-step supply chain, manufacturers who sell direct become competitors of wholesalers so anti-trust laws will apply and therefore sharing of data could become an issue. This theme was addressed by Dr Maxim Kleine of Norton Rose Fulbright LLP.
  5. Ignore China at your peril! This highly fast-growing economy has much to offer but we are often programmed to mistrust all things Chinese and think of China as a copycat nation. We need to open our minds to the opportunities offered by this nation and accept that huge numbers of brilliant engineers are graduating each year who are great innovators and designers. We need to accept it’s no longer ‘Made in China’ but ‘Created in China’
  6. Digitalise: How many times have we heard that we must digitalise our businesses and embrace trends such as machine learning, artificial intelligence, Internet 4.0? 

Can the wholesaler survive against sophisticated new entrants to our sector?

Yes they certainly can! according to Ian Heller, an expert in the field of Distribution and Logistics. It’s all about cultivating ‘unique’ services.

Very helpfully, Ian trawled through hundreds of wholesaler websites across Europe to see what these services might be and provided you with a long list of special services that you can offer your customers to set us apart from digital competition. (This is of course alongside online offers which he sees as essential to survive.)

Ian’ Heller’s ideas for outperforming your competitors

Electrical Wholesaler Moats (Moats: any factor that allows a company to provide a good or service that is similar to those offered by its competitors and, at the same time, outperform those competitors in profits)

The final presentation of the day was given on a topic high on the EDA’s agenda. Jan Janse, President of ETIM International, updated us on the status of the ETIM organisation and classification model introducing the latest developments and sharing the medium-term objectives.

2020 Barcelona

We all had plenty of time to network and get to know each other better and I know that everyone from the UK delegation has already put 2-4 June 2020 in Barcelona in their diaries. So please put it in yours as we would like to have an even larger group next year.

Delegate reactions

EDA President and Projects Director at Rexel UK Ltd, Chris Gibson:

“It was a privilege to represent the EDA along with other UK representatives at the recent EUEW Convention in Brussels.

“The willingness of fellow European members to engage and network was refreshing and allowed a meaningful exchange of views and opinions. The quality of the external speakers was extremely high and their content was thought provoking and addressed common challenges and opportunities that impact all wholesalers. “

Glen Krise, Managing Director, Megaman UK Ltd:

“The European Union of Electrical Wholesalers 2019 General Convention in Brussels was an excellent experience and a valuable opportunity for industry professionals from across Europe to share advice on how to tackle the ever-changing marketplace.

“I particularly enjoyed Ian Heller’s seminar on the current and future challenges being faced by electrical wholesalers, for example the pressure to go digital and keep up with an evolving market. It was fascinating to hear other attendees’ thoughts on this and a wide variety of other topics.

“It was a pleasure to share the experience with the other UK delegates and fellow members of the Electrical Distributors’ Association (EDA) and I look forward to seeing them all again next year.”

Simon Barkes, MD, BEMCO Ltd and immediate EDA past President:

“The EUEW Conference is a once a year opportunity to network with senior people from key suppliers who have a real influence on trading conditions in the UK. Over many years these contacts have proved invaluable.

“The scope and quality of the presenters has improved considerably in the last couple of years and offer experienced insights into topics of great interest and importance for our future trading.”

Tom Meyerratken, MD, Carl Kammerling International:

“A great couple of days; the convention was well organised, the atmosphere welcoming and the speakers surprisingly relevant and interesting. To to be recommended.

“Hopefully see you in Barcelona next year!”

Chris Pack, Head of Building Electrical Systems, BEAMA:

“The EUEW event provided a unique opportunity for BEAMA to network with the Electrical Wholesalers and manufacturers both from within the UK delegation and across the EU.

“The programme addressed the challenges currently faced by our industry with high quality speaker presentations. It would now be beneficial to our industry if the EDA and BEAMA could instigate some working groups to address some of the topics in relation to our local market. For example, European Anti-Trust Legislation where we could investigate developing our knowledge to provide clarity and guidance within the supply chain.”