PHARMACY CONFERENCE HIGHLIGHTS SYNERGIES

CHICAGO -- "Whole Health" will take on a whole new meaning in 2004 with the addition of the Food Marketing Institute's Supermarket Pharmacy Conference to the FMI Show here in May."The pharmacy conference is very successful, and it's a great conference, but we thought this would be a great thing that only we could put out there -- having a show that's all about the food side of the business married

CHICAGO -- "Whole Health" will take on a whole new meaning in 2004 with the addition of the Food Marketing Institute's Supermarket Pharmacy Conference to the FMI Show here in May.

"The pharmacy conference is very successful, and it's a great conference, but we thought this would be a great thing that only we could put out there -- having a show that's all about the food side of the business married with the pharmacy conference," said Laurie Gethin, senior manager, pharmacy services, FMI, Washington. "It will give the retail pharmacy executives a great chance to see the big picture."

Although the Pharmacy Conference, May 1 to 4, will be largely independent of the FMI Show and the other co-located shows that will be sharing McCormick Place in May, Gethin said FMI was encouraging its attendees to explore the other shows and look for synergies that tie the pharmacy to the rest of the store.

In fact, May 2 -- the second day of the pharmacy conference and the first day of the other shows -- has been designated as "synergy day," when pharmacy attendees can walk the floor of the FMI Show. Attendees of the FMI Show can attend certain functions at the pharmacy conference, including the conference reception and business appointments. Also, Gethin said, three of the FMI educational sessions on the show floor are designed to spotlight the food-pharmacy connection.

"There's a lot of opportunities for both sides of the store to work together," she said.

More than the other shows that are co-locating with FMI, however, the pharmacy show will retain a measure of independence. "We are not going to lose the value of the pharmacy conference itself," Gethin said.

The conference traditionally attracts about 350 to 400 attendees, including educational-session presenters, and about 100 exhibitors. Logistically, Gethin said locating at McCormick will allow more room for the conference's business sessions, which are one-on-one meetings with suppliers scheduled for three hours on each of the last two days of the conference. The cost of producing the show will remain about the same, she said.

The co-location is still considered a test, Gethin pointed out, noting that organizers will determine after the conference if it will be co-located with the FMI Show again in future.