Retailers attending FMI's Midwinter Executive Conference in Miami Beach got the scoop on FMI's new plans for its annual event in Chicago set for June 8 to 11.
The association revealed a number of new directions for FMI Connect 2015, in areas ranging from education to business relationships. It called on retailers to commit to having a big presence at the forum.
"We've listened to suppliers, manufacturers and retailers about last year's event and what you want," said Randy Edeker, chairman, CEO and president, Hy-Vee, who is also the returning chairman of FMI Connect. "We are formulating and planning an event that brings relevance for your investment."
Edeker said Hy-Vee will be sending 144 people to the event, and he urged retailers to commit early to how many they will send, and who those people will be.
One of the key elements is Connect Business Exchange (CBX), which focuses on 20-minute, one-on-one meetings in which retailers can meet with suppliers and other companies that probably aren't on their radar yet. These companies specialize in everything from technology to natural foods. There will also be CBX suites for larger supplier companies.
"CBX will strengthen the purpose of FMI Connect," Edeker said. He added that Hy-Vee will "have 22 tables at CBX."
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Other elements of FMI Connect will include five football fields of exhibits and co-location partners including United Fresh 2015, International Floriculture Expo, U.S. Food Showcase, Sabor Latino and InterBev. There will also be a Private Brands Summit and Pavillion, a "technology bar," and a health and wellness pavillion, he said.
Also co-located will be Future Leaders @ Connect (formerly known as Future Connect), "in which current leaders get together with future leaders," he said. "It includes full access to FMI Connect."
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