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Retail report

“Shopping should be stripped of its worthless moments”

Retailers face a simple choice today: speed up the shopping experience or slow it down. That is Insider Trends’ Head of Trends, British Cate Trotter’s, opinion. She is one of RetailDetail Congress’ keynote speakers on 27 April.

Consistent growth for lactose-free category
  • Published in Food

The market for lactose-free products is still growing as an increasing number of customers choose lactose-free items as part of a healthy lifestyle. This is turning the gluten-free, sugar free and health food category from niche into mainstream. 

European Commission clears path for cross-border online purchases
  • Published in m-Tail

The European Commission has proposed several new measures to grant consumers easier access to foreign web shops. One measure is that these web shops cannot refuse a customer based on his residence.

Budget brands are losing their fight against hard discount

Budget private labels are not the right strategy to fight off hard discounters, according to the International Private Label Consult (IPLC). Their inferior quality damages a supermarket's brand image and its margins are dwindling.

Frans Muller: “You have to make choices as a retailer"

Delhaize CEO Frans Muller will have to guide the Ahold - Delhaize integration in the next few years, but what can we expect? He will divulge his vision extensively at the upcoming RetailDetail Congress. 

Opinion: Entire value chain is under pressure

Why are farmers pushed to the brink, as the Panorama report about supermarket prices showed on Canvas? The entire chain is under tremendous pressure nowadays, according to retail expert Jorg Snoeck.

Do Belgian retailers have any chance of survival?

“Switch or die” is the message that rings increasingly clearer through retail land. Its next victim is cash & carry chain Makro, which has to thoroughly reorganize its Belgian operations to spark new commercial impulses. Some doubt whether the Belgian retail sector still has any chances of survival at all, but I think the future is not that bleak.

Bengal dramas induce more transparency and cooperation

Three weeks after the collapse of an eight-storey clothing factory in Bangladesh cost the lives of – for now – more than 1,200 textile workers, thirty major fashion retailers have signed a charter that should actively improve security in Bengal factories. “A worldwide breakthrough in textile retail”, say the founders of the project. Because of the drama questions are also being asked of working conditions in a broader perspective.

Tesco takes drastic measures and makes big loss

British retail giant Tesco is taking drastic measures. Next to the existing recovery plan ‘building a better Tesco’, the multinational is making big write-offs on real estate and goodwill. This will cause profits before taxes to be halved when compared to the previous year. If the overall costs of the departure from the United States are also brought into the calculations, almost all of the annual profit will have disappeared.

“Danger of showrooming is exaggerated”, says American research

93.6% of all American smartphone owners use their mobile in the shop, but most of the time this is not to compare prices at other stores. They do go to the website of the shop they are in: the danger of the smartphone for shopkeepers is exaggerated, say researchers of trade magazine JiWire after quite a small survey.

“Easily selling twice as many vegetables” and other tricks

The human brain may be very complex, it is also easily fooled. “Supply it and people will buy it” isn’t an empty promise, as marketing professor Arne Maas showed. A simple example: have shopping carts installed with a separate compartment for fruits and vegetables and see your sales double.

Can retailers still grow in times of crisis?

Many retailers that have their roots in the saturated markets of Western Europe are at a crucial phase in their existence: they will have to look for new sources of expansion in order to avoid the fierce competition in their home markets with an ageing population, where disposable incomes are under pressure from the continuing economic crisis.

Grupo Cortefiel: 'We will exceed 3000 shops in the next five years!'

The president of Grupo Cortefiel, Anselm Van den Auwelant, may rightfully give himself (part of the) credit for the growth of one of Europe's biggest fashion groups. RetailDetail had a short interview with him when he arrived at Brussels Airport, on his way to the board of directors of JBC, one of his projects.

Everyone already knows that the Internet changes the future of shopping... but who knows what exactly these changes will be, how consumer behaviour will change and how we, the retailers, should adapt to that? Our experts will point you to the answers during the first RetailDetail Congress, but retail professor Gino Van Ossel already lifts a corner of the veil.

In the current crisis situation, consumers are starting to behave differently. They adapt to the difficult circumstances (government cuts, redundancies, …) and they do that faster than most brands do. The gap between supply and demand is here to stay, as professor Jean-Noël Kapferer of the Parisian business school HEC said on RetailDetail's Brand Debate on 9 September.


According to Kapferer, consumers in saturated markets are going through an unprecedented process of social and economic change. Gone are the classic economic principles of balance and self-regulation: in this society consumers make their own deliberate choices based on their own preferences: for example for cheap products, biological products or products of their favourite brand.

Retailers are quicker to respond to consumers, but only A-brands innovate

Price is still a paramount consideration, as most of the retailers' own brands have understood. Still, this is not the only reason why ever more people prefer private labels. “Retailers are much closer to their customers than the slower A-brand manufacturers. They are constantly in touch with their customers and if they decide rapidly, cut the testing phase and quickly get along with it, they can deliver really fast. The volume would be rather limited, but the effect on goodwill would be immense”, says Kapferer.


Still, A-brands have their own distinct strength: they decide the future of food and other consumer goods. Only the A-brand producers conduct research and development, only they innovate and create the consumers' needs. This is a huge advantage, but they do not make it count (enough), according to Kapferer.

In practice: not enough dialogue

That is the theory, but how do the retailers and producers themselves experience these changes? RetailDetail organised a debate with key people from both the distribution and the manufacturing and the one conclusion emerging from the beginning already was the lack of dialogue. Pepsico BeLux's general manager Wim Destoop misses “the dialogue about the future: the achievements made by the different categories should be valued much more on their merits by the trade and the industry.”


Dominique Leroy, country manager for Unilever Belgium, can subscribe to that point of view: “Why is trade making it so difficult for us to innovate? We invest huge amounts of money to deliver innovating things and our costs are continuously increasing. Just give us some time and space to make our new products successful.”

Fight for your right... to be in a store

Destoop even suggested that private labels are over-represented in the stores – a suggestion that Dirk Depoorter, director of Spar Retail, rejected immediately: “We only have 45% private label”, he said. Moreover, he claims that this is often not a result of choice: “most of our private labels are in the fresh department, as almost all the A-brands have vanished from there. In other categories, the A-brands make sure we grow, something that private labels can not manage.”


Pascal Léglise, director private label at Carrefour, claimed that A-brands will never lose their place in the stores: “We can not simply drop the A-brands. Of course, we are eager to develop our own brands, but we can not make the A-brands pay the price.”

A tale of crocodile and sheep

Kapferer ended with the reconciling words that producers and retailers are “like a sheep that crosses the river on the back of a crocodile: they can not constantly fight, because they need each other. Retailers do need A-brands as locomotives of innovation and progress; without A-brands we would have a boring world”, as the brand professor concluded an interesting debate.

Two November will be the day of reckoning for Eckhard Cordes, chairman of the executive board of the German multinational Metro Group AG. The mother holding of Media Markt, Saturn, Metro, Makro, Galeria Inno and many more will then decide about Cordes's position. In a story that could easily feature in a soap series on tv, Cordes has the two major stockholders on his side, but faces fierce opposition of minority stockholder and Media Markt founder Erich Kellerhals.


Even though Cordes still has a contract until October 2012, the November meeting of the supervisory board can already decide on a contract renewal. Mike Dawson, editor at German newspaper Lebensmittel Zeitung, thinks it will be a disputed decision, as “Cordes has been especially good at creating negative publicity”.

One major foe

Cordes's biggest problem is his fierce rivalry with one of the most important shareholders of the Metro Group retail empire. Being the founder of one of the major companies that merged into Media Group, Erich Kellerhals (72) has an important minority share of Metro Group... and the right to veto. Any of Cordes's decisions needs the approval of 80% of shareholders, and of course that of Kellerhals himself. 


Several important cases are still waiting for Cordes's approval, such as the selling of underperforming units like Kaufhof (department stores) and Real (hypermarkets). Both have been terribly delayed by the strict (to say the least) company policy regarding his decisions. The flotation of consumer electronics chain Media-Saturn is also still pending: that process would go considerably smoother without people watching his fingers according to Cordes – another of his arguments to limit the powers of people like Kellerhals. Last March, Cordes obtained an important victory, as the retail powerhouse considerably limited the rights of minority stockholders (totalling 21% of Media Group's shares).

Defending his life's work

Kellerhals on the other hand remains critical and assertive: on the press conference announcing the 2010 company results, he even managed to cast a shadow on the excellent company results by demanding Cordes's immediate departure. With abundant body language and strong words, Kellerhals made sure everyone understood that he was merely defending his life's work. “I will not allow that mr. Cordes destroys what made us big and influential”, as the hale old man explained.


The German media happily covered the personal feud extensively and  pictured Cordes as the personification of the huge, authoritarian conglomerate that wants to silence self-made man Erich Kellerhaus – rendering the former terribly unpopular.

Ending the doubt

A major disadvantage for Cordes is of course that he has reached a satisfying outcome in none of the aforementioned cases. There is still no buyer for Kaufhof, still no peace at Media-Saturn and according to certain rumours, Cordes is even withdrawing the sale of hypermarkets Real. Moreover, Metro's shares have lost half of their worth in the four years of Cordes's reign at Metro Group – another argument for the shareholders not to like him.


Still, the two majority shareholders at Metro Group, the Haniel and Schmidt-Ruthenbeck families, have confirmed their support for Cordes. “He deserves our support because the shareholders think the continuing public doubt regarding Cordes and his position should end soon”, as Dawson states. 

Worried about bloodshed

Their worries are justified, because no-one knows what would happen if Kellerhals gets his way and Eckhard Cordes has to leave Metro Group after 2 November. There certainly is no successor present to take over, because “like all men of power, he (Cordes) has strived not to groom a serious contender who could challenge him”, as Lebensmittel Zeitung's Dawson thinks. He continues to say that “they may recruit from outside a top banker, e.g. Deutsche Bank CEO or similar”.

Still, that doubt will linger, along with the feud with Kellerhals. Everyone, and Kellerhals in the first place, will watch Cordes very closely if he receives a contract renewal – even if the two families have pledged their support. “The conflict with Kellerhals is not over yet and I don't think the Supervisory board meeting will solve the problem. Kellerhals's blood is boiling and he wants revenge. He is old and rich and can not be bought with a judicial settlement. I don't see this conflict end without some serious bloodshed”, as Dawson concludes.


E-commerce is one of the most modern and interesting branches of industry in the European Union. Quite surprisingly, its growth is remarkably faster in countries that already have an important e-commerce market, and virtually non-existent in countries without a significant e-commerce market. 


That is the most interesting conclusions in a recent report ordered by the European Parliament on e-commerce in the EU. Other topics include the limiting effect of fear for fraud on the number of people engaging in internet purchases and the reasons for the huge difference in the popularity of cross-border purchases.

E-commerce most popular in countries with... 

If there is one key factor for the success of e-commerce in a country, it is the presence of... easy internet access. That might sound obvious, but is nonetheless worth keeping in mind. Sweden leads the European way in the number of internet users (91% of all citizens), Luxembourg and the Netherlands follow very closely (90%). Belgium ranks ninth (78%), while the average for the whole Union is 69%. Greece (44%), Bulgaria (43%) and Romania (36%) are the three countries where less than half of the population is an internet user.

... (broadband) internet 

When the broadband criterion is added, Sweden remains at the top (with 86% of Swedes accessing internet via broadband), before Denmark (83%) and Finland (81%). Belgium and the Netherlands are fourth and fifth, just missing out of the 80% mark but staying well clear of the EU average of 59%. The three worst performers are no surprise: Greece (39%), Bulgaria (34%) and Romania (20%). The only EU powerhouse to miss the 50% mark is Italy, where only 42% of the citizens enjoy broadband internet access.


Looking at the number of citizens who have actually bought something online (measured from October 2009 to October 2010), the results are very – but not exactly – similar. The frontrunners (each with about two thirds of their population) are Denmark, Sweden and the Netherlands – but they are joined by the UK. Same story for the bottom group, where the three expected countries (Romania and Bulgaria with about 5%, Greece on 12%) are joined by Lithuania. The EU average is 40%, which is slightly higher than Belgium on 38%.

No such thing as "the handicap of a head start"

This number has doubled since 2005, according to the report, but in an unexpected way: strong growth in countries where e-commerce was already going well, almost no growth in the countries that were in 2005 – and still are in 2010 – almost undiscovered land for internet retailers. Surprisingly, the correlation in this graph is almost as strong as the one between e-commerce and internet access: the strongest e-commerce growths were in Sweden, Denmark, the UK, the Netherlands and Germany; a zero-growth or just slightly better was achieved in Romania, Bulgaria, Greece, Lithuania and Portugal. There were two major deviations: France (the largest e-commerce market in 2005, dropped to seventh in 2007) grew slower than expected, while Sweden (from fifteenth to fourth thanks to a 50% growth in five years) went the other way.

The powers of advertising

Not mentioned in the report however is an even stronger connection between the number of people buying goods or services online, and the percentage of advertising money spent on internet ads. The UK leads the way with 27%, while the same familiar sounding names Denmark, Sweden and Netherlands form the rest of the front runners, all scoring above 20%. Belgium scored 11% - comfortably in the average group – and Romania holds the wooden spoon with less than 2%. Romania and penultimate Slovakia (3%) were the only two countries to saw the online ad's market share drop compared to the year before, while Greece witnessed a 49% rise (!) to leave these two far behind.

Only one in four purchases is cross-border 

The second focus in the EP report was how many people engaged in cross-border purchases using the internet. Only 23% of the people who bought something online, did that from a seller based in another EU member state – meaning that about three quarter of internet purchases were made either from a store in the same country, or from (mostly) American sources.


Five countries saw over half of their online purchases coming from other European countries, and all of them were small(er) countries whose languages are also spoken in larger neighbouring countries. Malta leads the way with over 90%, closely followed by Luxembourg and Cyprus (both over 80%). Two larger countries that still fit the description also hop over the 50% bar: Austria and Belgium; a third – Ireland – just passing underneath.


Conversely, the worst achieving countries (15% or worse) have either no other country with the same language (Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary) or are the 'bigger brother' of one of the top countries (Germany and the UK). It is noteworthy that only seven member states perform worse than the EU average. Despite their supposed chauvinism, France (near 30%) are by far the most foreign-oriented of the EU powerhouses.

Belgium has most companies online 

The report worryingly states that only 14% of EU companies sell goods or services online, a number which is not on the rise. Belgium is the surprising leader in this chart, with 26% of Belgian companies also having an e-commerce branch. Sweden and Denmark follow closely, which is not the case for – again – Bulgaria, where a disappointing 3% of companies have a web shop to offer. Italy, Latvia and Romania again form Bulgaria's company in the bottom part of the list.

E-commerce not good for consumers 

The report continues to reach a number of interesting, and sometimes surprising, conclusions. One of the most eye-catching is this: many people think that an internet market is good for consumers, cutting out middle men (such as travel agents) and offering large quantities of interesting offers. Even when leaving the higher fraud risk out of the equation, the report concludes that this is not necessarily the case. An important drawback of the internet is the huge flow of information, also for (interesting) offers. This makes proper market research either very time-consuming (and expensive) or even completely impossible.

... because of "creative" pricing strategies

Proper market research is also hindered by the process of “drip-pricing”: the system in which the price for a product as it appears on the front page is gradually raised through extra costs and taxes. Airlines for example often use this method to raise the base price by adding luggage costs, airport taxes, transaction costs etc. While not strictly illegal, this is a direct offence against open market rules. It works however, following the psychological “loss aversion” theory: upon seeing the first cheap price, the customer considers the product as already his and to avoid losing it, (s)he is ready to pay a lot of extra costs.

... because of a new kind of intermediaries

The theory of disappearing middlemen is wrong too. While certain intermediaries have almost completely disappeared, a new set of them has emerged: think of price comparison sites, search engines, social network sites to read and post user reviews, internet service providers etc. The most important new intermediaries in e-commerce are those who provide infrastructure and those who assist in the choice, either objectively or biased (e.g. sponsored links).

... because it really depends on ads

Advertisement is, according to the report, a very important part of e-commerce: not only in helping existing, valuable sites to remain free of charge for its users/readers, but also for brands to create a positive and trustworthy name for themselves. One of the most important barriers for consumers to buy online, is the fear for fraud. Goods are not tangible and salespeople can not be seen: e-commerce involves a lot of trust. Research has shown however that advertisement is an important factor in creating a positive image, even if consumers know that an ad is a company's own, biased message.

Consumers fear fraud, companies fear complexity

Building on data from Europe's statistical service Eurostat, the report finds other barriers too, ranging from concerns about lack of trust (26%), lack of security (64%) or lack of IT-skills (16%). 12% has not engaged in e-commerce because they have no payment card, whereas 62% “prefers to shop in person”. This lack of security is largely fed with actual problems: only one percent reported to really have had problems in this area.

Belgians are the lucky ones

Belgians appear to be the luckiest e-commerce users: they both lead the list of countries with the least experience with trouble (11%, compared to the EU average of 17%) and the list of countries with the highest satisfaction in complaint handling (36% “very satisfied”, compared to the average of 21%). The Dutch find themselves comfortably in the middle, while Romania and Bulgaria are far worse off.

Complexity main barrier for companies

The most important barrier for companies not to engage in cross-border e-commerce is the complex legal situation: under the European rules, a lot of different national and sub-national legal systems exist. The multitude of different languages is also a barrier, both when setting up a website and when dealing with complaints. Payment methods might also be very different from one country to another, causing even more trouble for international e-commerce.

"Harmonise and strengthen legislation"

The report ends with a number of recommendations towards the EU, especially concerning harmonisation of legislation to create a more integrated single market, improving consumer awareness of the legislation to protect them, strengthening support for businesses who want to participate in e-commerce and restricting “potentially abusive pricing practices” such as drip-pricing.


Metro and Carrefour seem to have started a new trend by selling Real and Dia: retail multinationals in serious trouble on their home market are selling major parts of their holding. But will these supermarket giants succeed in removing their ballast?  And will Wal-Mart try to invade Europe again, to take advantage of the current problems in the European retailing landscape?


The Germans are very unlike the French

Whoever listened to the image Carrefour presented of discount operation Dia, must have wondered why such a beautiful, promising operation needed to be cut off. However, according to the French, “cut off” is not a correct choice of words: they say Dia will be 100% independent, but still keep a connection with Carrefour, most notably through their own brands.

The difference with the Germans of Metro is huge. No excuses about a flotation, no stories about complete independence while keeping a connection... using German Grundlichkeit the message could not be clearer: Metro wants to separate from its hypermarket chain Real. Another non-core activity, Kaufhof, is put on sale too. Metro's management has confirmed talks with possible buyers, but stated concrete negotiations are currently not being held.

Cut loose non-core parts

Dia-winkelThe resemblances between Carrefour and Metro are obvious: both have lost a large part of their stock exchange worth, both have serious problems at their home market. And now both try to sell  major activities that are not part of the core (hypermarket for Carrefour, cash&carry for Metro). Divisions that do not share that core-dna are simply cut loose.

Bryan Roberts, director retail insights at Kantar Retail confirms this view: “there is a trend amongst major retailers to sell non-core activities – especially if business is not going as well as it should. Carrefour finally understands that there is barely any synergy between their own operations and those of Dia. In addition to that, sale operations generate cash – which might appease impatient investors.


Wal-Mart named in both cases

Remarkably, Wal-Mart has been linked to both selling processes. Should they take over Real, Wal-Mart would return to the German market... where they suffered a humiliating defeat underestimating the German fighting spirit, retailwise. On the other hand, taking over Dia would be a great move for Wal-Mart. Its presence in continental Europe and in several interesting growing markets in the world would offer Wal-Mart an opportunity to finally enter Europe successfully.


Sam's club van Wal-Mart

Since 2006, when Wal-Mart had to leave Germany after only six years, its European ambitions have been limited to British Asda. A Real takeover would give the Americans 320 hypermarkets – and a strong foothold – in the German market, as well as 110 hypermarkets in Poland, Romania, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine, to spread the risk for Wal-Mart this time.


Moreover, Roberts points to another possible prey: Metro's cash & carry operation in the UK, Makro, has been generating losses for years and speculations have been ongoing about Wal-Mart's daughter Asda taking over the English Makro stores – possibly to turn them into a kind of Sam's Club, Wal-Mart's “warehouse club”).


Americans looking for "small-scale" stores

What the hypermarket is for Carrefour and cash&carry for Metro, the supercenter is for Wal-Mart. Large scale retail has always been very American, focussing on non-food first and adding food products later.


Lately however, the American giant has been turning towards smaller formats: starting with the Neighbourhood Market (now Walmart Market) and later on also Marketside and Walmart Express. Roberts: “The acquisition of Dia would fit in nicely in this movement towards a smaller scale, and it would grant them the opportunity to enter markets like Brazil, Argentina, China or Turkey.

Real warenhuis

A major problem for this takeover would be that “over 32% of the Dia stores, more than 2000 stores, are managed by franchisees. Wal-Mart however wants complete control over its chain.” A similar idea is behind Wal-Mart's annoyance with the French market: usually American companies dislike the French labour laws.
Another problem with acquiring Dia would be the fact that most of Dia's stocks are in the hands of a large number of Carrefour stockholders, so in order to buy the hard discounter Wal-Mart would have to convince a lot of people. With a lot of money too, as Dia's buyer is expected to pay up to 4 billion euro – although that should not be a problem for the American giant whose profit last year rose up to 25.5 billion dollar.

The acquisition of Real too is merely speculation: it would be strange if Metro simply handed competitor Wal-Mart an easy entrance into Europe. Roberts thinks therefore that Wal-Mart taking over either Real or Dia is “unlikely, but not impossible”.


Global Summit DIY 2011 Brussels logo Last week, over 400 professionals from 32 countries joined the Global DIY Summit in Brussels's Congress Palace to make the Belgian capital the world capital of DIY. With North-America's numbers one and two in DIY (Home Depot and Lowe's) and the European leader Kingfisher (owner of Castorama), the top of global DIY was present. Emerging markets like India, Russia or Egypt also took the stage, joined by only one Belgian – to stress that this summit was truly an international event.

Store Tour shows the Belgian DIY Top

Before the summit, a Store Tour led over 50 foreign observers along stores of the Belgian Big Three in DIY: Hubo, Gamma and Brico. They were mostly impressed with Hubo's tidy organisation that allowed to display all 60,000 articles conveniently in 6000m². Gamma's brand new Vilvoorde store also scored, not at least because of its 280,000 euro turnover of last week. Brico's own new concept was also greeted with cheers, but its Plan-it store was rather empty and not very consistent in its signposting.

Summit: ‘What will shape the future of Home Improvement worldwide?’

Brico Plan-it logoStarting from this theme, EDRA (European DIY Retail Association) and Fediyma (Federation of European DIY Manufacturers) organised the day around two main topics: sustainability and successful strategies for the near future. After the usual introductions, twenty speakers took the stage – not all of them with the same level of success.

Talking about green

First on was prof. dr. Radermacher, member of the Club of Rome, whose speech about the correlation between sustainability and globalisation was very striking: he stated that, while everyone is using big words about 'being green' and is “very good in drafting gas emission regulations”, we all miss the point in this case.

Radermacher thinks the real debate is about responsibilisation: is a sustainable market economy even possible? Through concrete instruments to translate the will to be responsible into specific actions, the answer is – fortunately – 'Yes'. Sensible innovation strategies are the only path towards a sustainable DIY future.

Ladder to window Radermacher points to the fundamental difference between efficiency and effectivity: “innovation contributes to do more with less” is the key for progress – very aptly illustrated through a metaphor of a ladder against the wrong window. Professor Radermacher's final statement was that the battle between sustainability and globalisation will remain a 'prisoner's dilemma' if there is no global approach towards a sensible environmental future, in the form of an institution with supranational competences.


The next four speakers - from the US, Germany, Australia and Canada – demonstrated the way their retail organisations manage sustainability. It soon became clear that the main challenge will be in offering a range of green products at a price that is acceptable to the end user. Lowe's showed concrete examples of responsible construction and a remarkable feature of its parking lot designs, which include charging stations for customers' electrical cars. Bunnings Australia spoke of the success of rainwater recovery, which has enabled the assortment to be expanded with design items as well.

The DIY brain

BricoDay two focused on the worldwide growth potential for suppliers and distributors. Speakers from India and Russia earned applause, but none as much as Sandro Solari, CEO of the ambitious Chilean retailer Sodimac, and his moving, socially inspired exposé about offering the poor the possibility to have a roof over their head.

The last speaker was Robin Wight from London, whose notable attire and presentation earned him a standing ovation. His theme “The future is social, the future is bright” pointed towards the continuing meaningfulness of “old media” in this era of social media. His analysis of how our brain works: “brains respond to feelings more than facts.”

His message was especially hopeful for brand producers, as our brain makes brands a decisive factor in the consumers' process of choice. Social media are, according to him, essentially tools for reputation management and using scientific research and video fragments, he showed how the new media help to change behaviour. He concluded rather hopefully: technology helps us to become human again. 

Top level interaction


handshakeThe DIY Summit was of course not just about listening to speakers. The high-level opener was a VIP gathering including only the CEOs of the participating retail organisations – with the notable, but silent, exception of hosts and sponsors Henkel. The gathering proved to be a very interesting interaction about the worldwide novelties in DIY and Home improvement.


One of the highlights of day one was the debate with some of DIY's big shots in the panel led by Belgian moderator Thierry Coeman. The conclusion was crystal clear: producers and distributors need to offer their customers simple product solutions, accurate information and skilled guidance, but they should not forget how crucial the internet has become in the decision process.

To achieve this goal, the obsession with prices should be replaced by innovation and a better understanding of what the customer really wants. This should also be reflected in the negotiations between sellers and buyers. 

DIY Lifetime Award

In the impressing stage of the Royal Museum of Art and History at Brussels's beautiful Cinquantenaire Parc, Home Depot's founder Pat Farrah received the DIY Lifetime Award during the final gala night. The evening was a great success from a networking point of view – proving the use of these international congresses... starting with next year's Global DIY Summit that will take place in Paris on 31 May and 1 June.