Inside This Issue - Opinion
Keynote event on mass retail agenda nears
March 12th, 2012
by David Pinto
Six weeks remain until the start of the 2012 Annual Meeting of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores. And once again this year the event holds every initial promise of amply rewarding those retail and supplier executives who care enough about their business to journey to Palm Beach, Fla., for the meeting.
Those familiar with the NACDS Annual Meeting roster, content and format well know that this event is the keynote for mass retailing’s annual agenda. Not only do senior managers from virtually every U.S. drug chain attend, but so, too, do representatives of America’s leading grocery and general merchandise retailers. No other event on the mass retailing calendar can claim so extensive a draw.
This year as well the meeting will attract an impressive list of global retailers. Foremost among them are the senior executives of Boots, Europe’s largest and most compelling retail and wholesale druggist. Finally, many senior supplier executives who have long shunned this meeting as too marginal to their businesses have determined that the NACDS event has become simply too compelling to resist.
Those who journey to Palm Beach will be exposed to four days of industry, business and political presentations sandwiched between a wealth of opportunities for retailers and suppliers to gather in one-on-one sessions for the purpose of reviewing the state of their current business and planning future initiatives.
Evenings will largely be spent at supplier- or NACDS-sponsored social events, occasions that rival the best that other retail trade associations offer in the meticulousness of the productions, the caliber of the entertainment and the corporate desire to leave nothing to chance in the goal of entertaining the retail guests.
As for the business program, the highlight will certainly be an appearance by former President George W. Bush, who is scheduled to speak on the morning of Tuesday, April 24, the final day of the event.
The days leading up to the former president’s remarks will be occupied by the usual association update from NACDS president and CEO Steve Anderson, a final visit to the podium by outgoing NACDS chairman Bob Loeffler, who, by the way, has been singularly effective as the industry’s spokesman over the past year, and the installation of Walgreens CEO Greg Wasson as the new NACDS chairman, the latter two events accompanied by statements of objectives realized and hoped for.
Between these events in this election year will be an update on the current political situation by Larry Sabato, the highly regarded political analyst from the University of Virginia and, at the PAC breakfast on Monday morning, an election preview by well-known columnist Stu Rothenberg.
Tying all these disparate events together will be the usual behind-the-scenes machinations that make NACDS so compelling and valuable an organization. Four new board members will be chosen, including, say industry insiders, the elevation of CVS/pharmacy president Mark Cosby to a board position.
“The 2013 Annual Meeting is shaping up as an exciting event, which is exactly what it needs to be to reflect this dynamic industry,” says Anderson. “This event will live up to its reputation as the place to be for NACDS-member chains and suppliers alike.”
In all, it’s a compelling show, one that will be attended by a near-record 2,100 guests, the largest number the association has been able to gather since the industry’s halcyon days of two decades ago when the chain drug community was populated by three times the number of drug chains that exist today.
As NACDS senior vice president Jim Whitman, an executive known as much for his hyperbole and enthusiasm as for his effectiveness, sums up the event: “The week of the Annual Meeting remains the one week during the calendar year that retailers and suppliers who are serious about their business cannot afford to miss. The meetings held in Palm Beach during the last week in April largely determine the fortunes of both retailers and suppliers for the remainder of the year. At the least, they set the tone for the effectiveness and value of the retailer-supplier relationship going forward.
“And, as everyone in our industry knows, the way retailers and suppliers relate to each other largely determines how effectively each relates to the customers they both serve. In other words, the strength and vitality of our industry is largely influenced by the success of the NACDS Annual Meeting. And the upcoming meeting promises to be a successful one indeed.”
We agree with Jim Whitman.