Latest update on conferences

by | Mar 17, 2020

HBT – Hardware & Building Traders

HBT Chief Executive Officer, Greg Benstead yesterday announced to its members and suppliers that the HBT May conference is officially postponed until later in 2020, due to new State Government regulations around public gatherings of 500 people or more in a bid to slow the growth of COVID-19.

Talking exclusively to AHJ today on the rescheduling of HBT’s conference, Mr Benstead said they had been examining all aspects of the current situation and were looking to only proceed if safe to do so, however, it is was now impossible for the conference to go ahead given the cap of 500 people in one gathering by the Australian Government.

“The Prime Minister announced this last Friday however the State Government has to enact this in their own laws. NSW enacted a regulation on Sunday, so we have to abide by this act because we are a registered business in NSW,” Mr Benstead said.

“We have been very busy with the conference and most plans are completed however our members and supplier’s health is paramount so we are postponing. We are working with the Gold Coast Conference Centre on a future date most likely in October/November. We will confirm the date in the next few days. We understand there is a lot of business conducted at these conferences and understand the need to drive sales will be very important in the months ahead. We will be encouraging as much business as we can in the interim.”

“Talking to members at the moment, we are seeing some members are quieter, but on the other side of things customers are also coming to the smaller retailers because they want to stay away from the bigger stores. Also, with more people at home, they are seeing more jobs that need to be done so they are looking at painting etc. It is important to look at as many positives to get over the negatives at times like these.  I think we will see more good business on the other side of this as I am sure there will be a lot of delayed demand,” he said.

Mr Benstead reported the group’s December numbers are positive, while January/February numbers also remained good, however, we will see what the future brings.

“I am confident business will be back to normal in the not too distant future,” Mr Benstead said.

CSS – Construction Supply Specialists

CSS Managing Director, Jeff Wellard, spoke exclusively to AHJ on the rescheduling of its 2020 conferences, in light of the new government regulations around public gatherings.

“For us to do what we do, it takes us quite a while to make sure that we get it right. We had our main conference schedule for April/May in Melbourne, and a second conference based around a sales promotion which was in Singapore in October. We have cancelled both. We may do something later in the year but we will definitely postpone the May conference for 12 months. Whether we do something in the interim, whether this COVID-19 clears up or not, we are just going to wait and see,” Mr Wellard said

“We have planned both of these events for a little while and we have deferred both until 2021. If things settle down, we will do one later in the year. We just want to make sure that if we do hold a conference, it needs to be organized properly. If we had deferred our main conference until July or August, we still do not know if it can go ahead, and it will take some time reorganize anyway. So, we decided that because all the plans were in place for these two anyway, we thought the best thing to do was roll them over by a year,” he said.

Mr Wellard said the response from suppliers and members to attend both conferences had been extremely positive.

“Things were going very well with a lot of members ready to sink their teeth into growing their businesses. This is not just us either. A lot of other groups were also very chuffed with the responses they were getting for upcoming conferences,” he said.