WASHINGTON — Grocery Manufacturers Association here is expecting strong retailer turnout at this year's GMA Executive Conference, scheduled for Aug. 20-23 at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colo.
“We have retail executive participation at a level we probably have never seen,” said Pamela G. Bailey, president and chief executive officer, GMA. “We have been very strategic in working with our knowledge partners in structuring panel discussions, whether its retail of manufacturer leadership, so there will be an incredible number of opportunities to learn from this program.”
She said attendance for this year's event has been trending ahead of last year, and the association “expects a sellout.”
Supermarket-industry speakers are scheduled to include David Dillon, chairman and CEO, Kroger Co.; Ric Jurgens, chairman and CEO, Hy-Vee; Sue Klug, president, Southern California Division, Supervalu; and Judy Spires, president and CEO, Kings Super Markets.
GMA sought to ensure that a wide range of retail channels were represented on the panels, along with top manufacturer executives.
In addition, the event will feature speakers from other non-food retail channels, including Terry J. Lundgren, chairman, president and CEO of Macy's, who will discuss how Macy's positioned itself as a “house of brands,” and from other industries, such as Michael Eisner, the former chairman of Walt Disney.
“Everybody, regardless of retail format, is focused on understanding the retail consumer,” said Denny Belcastro, GMA's executive vice president of industry affairs and collaboration. “Many of our members are spending a lot of money on consumer insights, and what we've found is the consumer isn't zeroing in on any one retail format — they are looking for all the opportunities; they are looking for solutions to their needs, and they are shopping different formats.”
He said GMA expects twice the number of retailer attendees than the conference historically has attracted.
The conference also will address the regulatory and legislative issues of concern to the industry, with scheduled sessions presented by Margaret A. Hamburg, commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and Michael R. Taylor, FDA's deputy commissioner of foods, among others.