HOT TOPICS TO BE FOCUS OF VSDA BREAKFAST

LAS VEGAS -- Issues, education and networking will top the agenda when supermarket executives gather here next month for their third annual breakfast during the Video Software Dealers Association Convention, July 8 to 11.The event will be sponsored by Warner Home Video, Burbank, Calif., and hosted by VSDA and Supermarket News. It will take place Friday, July 10, at 8 a.m., in Room N242 of the Las

LAS VEGAS -- Issues, education and networking will top the agenda when supermarket executives gather here next month for their third annual breakfast during the Video Software Dealers Association Convention, July 8 to 11.

The event will be sponsored by Warner Home Video, Burbank, Calif., and hosted by VSDA and Supermarket News. It will take place Friday, July 10, at 8 a.m., in Room N242 of the Las Vegas Convention Center. Attendance is by invitation only, but retailers can obtain more information about the event by calling Gary Rautenberg, VSDA's director of membership, at (818) 385-1500.

Warner, which is sponsoring the breakfast for the first time, has emphasized that it will not use the event to promote product. Instead, executives from the studio will have a dialogue with retailers about trends and issues, such as shared revenue, copy-depth programs, DVD and catalog sales, said John Quinn, senior vice president, sales.

"Whenever we do a function like this, our preferred method is to present data and other information regarding our perspective on certain key issues, and then open it up for a discussion among all the participants. This could be about the data or anything else that will help us understand the issues more than we think we do now," said Quinn. Such dialogue is all the more important this year because of all the changes that are taking place in the video industry, he said.

While the studio will present topics and address questions that it perceives are of interest, the retailers also will have an opportunity to raise their concerns. To answer questions, Warner hopes to have a panel of executives from such areas as operations, marketing and sales, along with representatives of affiliated studios like HBO Home Video, New York, New Line Home Video, Los Angeles, and MGM Home Entertainment, Santa Monica, Calif.

"The people we will have there are the ones who set policies and programs. It's the right forum, from the retail side and from our side, to get these kinds of things on the table," said Quinn.

"The attendees get a couple of benefits from this," he said. "First is to help us understand their perspective on the business, so that as we develop programs and policies, we consider their views. Secondly, they have the opportunity to see these issues from our perspective."

There also will be a presentation by VSDA's Rautenberg. "We are pleased that the agenda for this year's supermarket breakfast will address current retailer issues in much more depth, as well as providing a stronger focus on educational and networking opportunities," said Jeffrey P. Eves, VSDA's president.

David Merrefield, vice president, executive editor and associate publisher, SN, New York, also will present new research relating to video sold in supermarkets.

"We are pleased that Warner is sponsoring the breakfast," said Merrefield. "But we are especially gratified that the studio has listened to supermarket retailers and put together a program based on their interests and needs."

With all the changes in the video trade, this is a confusing time for many supermarket executives, he noted. The opportunity to address questions and issues through face-to-face interaction with Warner executives and the retailers' peers should prove invaluable, he said.