INTERVIEW: What to expect at this year's DISTREE EMEA

We caught up with DISTREE Events CEO Farouk Hemraj to find out why the trade show is so useful for the retail channel
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Unlike many traditional trade shows DISTREE EMEA focuses on one-to-one meetings over merely visiting stands and shaking hands.

It gathers together 1,000-plus senior executives from ICT and consumer electronics (CE) vendors, distributors, retailers and e-tailers in one place at one time.

This year, on its 11th outing, DISTREE EMEA takes place in Monaco from February 19th to 22nd.

PCR talked to Farouk Hemraj, CEO at DISTREE Events, to find out why the show is a ‘must attend’ diary date for the region’s channel VIPs.

DISTREE EMEA is often referred to as ‘not a traditional trade show’. What does this mean?
It’s a very different experience from attending an event like CeBIT, CES or GITEX. You can go to these events and look at the vendor stands, wander around and maybe exchange some business cards with a few people. Now that’s all well and good, but we set out to create an event that was more structured and more focused to deliver tangible business benefits.

DISTREE EMEA is focused on the quality of its attendees, not just the quantity. We invite the region’s most influential volume distributors, retailers and e-tailers to Monaco to attend DISTREE EMEA where they participate in pre-scheduled one-on-one meetings with hundreds of participating vendors. It is a business- focused environment.

If you’re looking for ‘booth babes’, free giveaways and stands featuring Formula 1 cars, DISTREE EMEA is not for you. But, if you’re a vendor looking to manage, review, develop or launch volume routes-to-market in EMEA, then DISTREE EMEA will be a priceless experience. We have an exhibition hall, we have booths, we have private meeting rooms, and we make sure that we get senior executives from vendors sitting face-to-face with senior executives from both existing and potential channel partners for real business discussions. Hundreds of channel agreements are signed and new business ventures formed as a result of meetings that take place at DISTREE EMEA each year. It is the most efficient event for both vendors and channel partners operating in the EMEA region.

What vendors attend DISTREE EMEA? What advantages are there for them?
It would be quicker to say what vendors don’t attend DISTREE EMEA. The way the event is structured means that it appeals to all vendors from the very largest A-brand vendors with established channels through to new start-ups at the very beginning of building out their routes-to-market. Microsoft is Platinum Sponsor of this year’s DISTREE EMEA and that says a great deal for the value that major vendors can derive from the event.

Does the delegate base change from year-to-year?
The delegate base changes constantly and that is something we dedicate a great deal of resources to. The quality of the event depends on getting the right people from the right channel partners to attend and this is something we have perfected over the last decade. New specialist distributors emerge and existing distributors refocus their business. We have channel experts in each market and it is their knowledge that allows us to refine who we invite each year.

We have also increased the number of spaces allocated to retailers and e-tailers in 2013. More and more vendors are looking to interact directly with retail buyers and many distributors are taking up a fulfillment or third party logistics role. The great thing about channel structures is that they are constantly changing and evolving. That’s why it never gets boring.

Can you tell us more about the conference programme this year?
This year’s DISTREE EMEA conference programme involves contributions from GfK, CONTEXT, Kiki Lab, Moor Insights, Regent and VIA to name but a few.

There is a mixture of keynotes, workshops, question and answer sessions and panel discussions during the event. Delegates can also request one-on-one meetings with event speakers if they have an interest in a specific topic and wish to have a private discussion. We also have multiple vendors presenting their channel plans and product roadmap for the next 12 months. For the vendors this is a great opportunity to reach out beyond the companies currently delivering sales for them and appeal to potential new partners as well. Plus there is a new feature in the DISTREE EMEA 2013 programme – we’re introducing a series of summits during the event for specific delegate groups, such as retailers and e-tailers, and emerging markets distributors.

So, what’s your parting message to vendors or channel partners thinking about attending this year’s DISTREE EMEA?
Don’t think about it, just do it. If you’re not there in person, you’re missing out. The efficiency of the event is what really stands out – so much can be achieved in just a few days.

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