AACS brings industry together at Connect 23 Conference

The Australian Association of Convenience Stores (AACS) successfully hosted its annual conference this week at Crown Melbourne.

The Connect 23 Conference, which 590 delegates attended, provided the opportunity to celebrate and showcase the very best within the P&C industry for both retailers and suppliers, while providing opportunities to learn from experts in their field.

Theo Foukkare, CEO of AACS, started the day by welcoming all those present and providing a member update, before Brett Barclay, Director at CMA, presented the State of the Industry (SOI) report.

Brett Barclay delivering the State of the Industry report. Photo: Pat Brunet / Event Photos Australia

Barclay revealed that the industry generated over $10 billion in retail shop sales for the first time ever, which is a fantastic achievement for the entire industry.

Presentations from the two Peter Jowett winners Ozzie Lumpkin III from PepsiCo and Ben McWiggan from 7-Eleven, gave us a glimpse into the future and how the metaverse can help shape the way P&C interacts with its consumers.

David Coffey, Industry Lead Retail and e-Com at TikTok, spoke about the impressive rise of the entertainment platform and how businesses can best utilise the app to increase awareness and drive interaction with their brand or service.

David Coffey, Industry Lead Retail and e-Com at TikTok. Photo: Pat Brunet / Event Photos Australia

Brian Walker, CEO of Retail Doctor Group, spoke about omnichannel best practice and how having an omnipresence can enhance personalisation, loyalty, and convenience.

Mark Wohltmann, Global Director of NACS, discussed some of the trends in convenience retail including what is and isn’t working from around the world, ranging from EVs to automation to personalisation. Wohltmann emphasised the importance of talking, interacting, and sharing ideas.

Mark Wohltmann, Global Director of NACS. Photo: Pat Brunet / Event Photos Australia

Greg Page, Founder of Heart of the Nation and former Yellow Wiggle, explained how the presence of an AED at a service station can save someone’s life. Page pointed to the recent partnership with New Sunrise, and how the installation of AEDs at a number of their sites had already saved three lives.

A leaders panel on health, sugar, and being prepared for the future challenges was held, featuring Dr Alan Barclay, NRA Health and Nutrition expert, Geoff Parker, CEO of the Australian Beverages Council, and Emma Metcalf-King, Head of Food at 7-Eleven.

The leaders panel on health and sugar. Photo: Pat Brunet / Event Photos Australia

The panel discussed what exactly the proposed sugar tax is, how it will affect the P&C channel, and whether it will be effective in its target of reducing obesity and health complications in Australians.

Michael McQueen, Speaker, Author, and Futurist, then took the stage to help attendees to be prepared for what is coming, to “focus on the tides, not the waves” including the acceleration of AI, personalisation, and a generational transition.

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