If there was one important takeaway from Mega Group’s 54th AGM and Convention, which took place on May 22 & 23 at the Hilton Toronto Airport Hotel, it would be that independent retailers are as relevant in the market place today as they ever were.
This year’s theme, “Celebrating Experience”, underscores that fact. So many of Mega’s retailers belong to family enterprises that span generations. As owner-operators, they hold a special connection to their communities that uniquely qualifies them to deliver the essential component in the modern shopping journey, an outstanding and authentic customer experience. It’s the ingredient that means the difference between a sale and a lost opportunity.
The following video, which was produced for this year’s event, celebrates in dramatic fashion the promise of an Owner-Operator experience.
Over 150 members and vendors from across the country made the trip for the annual get-together. They were treated to two intensive days of informative presentations covering every aspect affecting retail today, from the latest merchandising trends, to marketing (both traditional and digital) and digital business. Capping off the activities was Mitch Joel’s penetrating, thought-provoking and, yes, entertaining keynote address that touched on all these topics and more in his own unique, down-to-earth, quirky style.
An enlightening panel discussion was also held. Moderated by the new Executive Vice President of Marketing and Digital Business, Luc-André Cormier, other notable participants included seasoned retailers Tom Barber and Bob Coleman, Brian Wattier, Vice President, AVB Marketing and Mitch Joel. The conversation delved deeper on the important themes of the customer experience, the need for a seamless interaction between the physical store and the online presence and the concepts of convenience and 24/7 accessibility.
Mega Group’s CEO, Benoit Simard, perhaps summed up the current situation best with a simple question all retailers should ask themselves: Why me? In a transformed, globalized world dominated by internet behemoths, why should the consumer care about you? Is your online presence a true avatar of your physical store? More importantly, does your business even show up on web searches? If retailers haven’t already heard the wake-up call, the sobering fact that 92% of all shopping journeys begin online should jolt them into the awareness of the stark reality that if the consumer can’t find you on line, your business simply does not exist.
As for the Annual Shareholder Meeting, the actual AGM, the report about Mega’s performance in 2018 was both positive and encouraging for the future. Due to recent events in the industry, especially on the vendor side, the positive outcome for 2018 was not a forgone conclusion. In the end, Mega’s continued strength and relevance in the industry goes beyond its financial services. It’s about the power of numbers and how those numbers can be leveraged to create effective, affordable and flexible programs and platforms in marketing, web, merchandising and digital business that allow member retailers to adapt, evolve and to do business better in a time of rapid change.
The AGM also elected a new board member, Gerrard Stubbe of Stubbe’s BrandSource Home Furnishings in Tilsonburg, ON. Gerrard has been a long-time member and like so many others, part of a family of owner-operators that have been serving their community successfully for years. His experience and insight in our industry will no doubt be a valuable asset to the Board.
The annual convention provided an opportunity for Mega to renew its longstanding support for the Ronald McDonald House Charity. A cheque for $10,000 was presented to Chris Over, Manager, Development & Donor Relations, Ronald McDonald House Charities® South Central Ontario and Cynthia Wong, Senior Manager, National Corporate Partnerships by Carl Mastrovito, Regional Sales Manager, Sealy-Tempur Canada, representing the all monies collected from the sales of the RMHC mattress in 2018. Another $4,225 was collected during the Thursday evening cocktail and buffet supper. Since the partnership with RMHC was formed, Mega has collected over $1 million dollars to this truly exceptional charity.
Finally, Mega has long believed in the Canadian Furniture Show. It times the Annual Convention and AGM to coincide the same week as the CFS to make it convenient and affordable for members to attend both. This year, the Mega booth received the recognition of being the Best Traffic Builder in the show. Insofar as Mega’s reason for being is to make the independent retailer stronger – which means, at least in part, in providing services and platforms that allow retailers to drive more traffic to their stores and web sites – it was especially gratifying that Mega was able to accomplish the same goal in such an important B2B context as the CFS.
Mega Group will hold its 2020 AGM & Convention on January 14 – 15 just prior to the CFS weekend. Please note that the CFS will run from the Thursday through Saturday, January 16 – 18.