Celebrating 40 years at the 2018 KBSA Conference, AGM and Awards Dinner

Celebrating 40 years at the 2018 KBSA Conference, AGM and Awards Dinner
September 11, 2018 Richard Hibbert

Tomorrow sees this year’s annual KBSA AGM conference, awards ceremony and conference. As Chair of the KBSA, KSL’s Richard Hibbert talks about why he’s looking forward to the this year’s event, which also celebrates the KBSA’s 40th anniversary.

This year’s theme is ‘Investing in the future’. What does this mean?

We always have a theme running through the conference. This year the workshops will be focused on how businesses can prepare themselves for what’s coming. ‘Investing in the Future’ is all about taking steps to get ready for business growth and being prepared for the future. We’ll share best practices in business management, networking, social media as well as training and education, to help our members take something away that will be useful to them.

What’s going to be different about this year?

Every year the KBSA conference is different. We improved the format of the conference significantly last year and it was a great success. So this time has been about how we can take last year’s format and fine tune it to make the experience even better. To improve the experience we’ve got a better venue and improved the audio/visual and stage so that the presentations will be more engaging for members.

The venue, Stratford Manor Hotel, is a conference hotel, so it’s been designed to provide the perfect facilities for an event like this. The layout of the rooms are more considered to ensure that everyone can participate more easily. So for example, previously we had theatre style seating during presentations, but this year we’re having table seating with everyone facing forward, which will be far more comfortable. Refreshments will be free flowing and there’s a fantastic restaurant and bar!

Most significantly this year, we considered the content of our presentations to include video testimony from members themselves explaining why the KBSA has made a difference to their businesses. We want to enforce the message that the KBSA is about its members and for its members.

So what’s going to be happening?

The format that we introduced last year worked so well that the itinerary will be similar. The events starts with a retailer dinner the night before the conference that is free for retailer members to attend. This special dinner provides an opportunity for members to meet the KBSA Board and get a unique insight from experts on the future trends in the KBB industry. This year Simon Acres, KBSA Board member, will be giving a birthday speech which will look at how far the KBSA has come over the last 40 years and discuss why there has never been a better time for independent retailers to be part of the KBSA.

On Wednesday we have a full morning planned of business briefing sessions focussing in ‘Investing for the future’. In the afternoon we have a fantastic lineup of speakers. The evening is all about the Designer & Excellence Awards ceremony. There’ll be a drinks reception, the Awards presentation and then dinner and entertainment. As they were so popular last year, we’ve invited String Infusion to perform again, although this time there will be more musicians to make the experience even better.

What are the speakers going to be talking about?

Wayne Hemingway is not only one of our keynote speakers, but he’s also our Head Judge and Presenter for the design awards. Wayne’s keynote speech will bring a design perspective to the conference as he’ll be talking about how he built fashion label ‘Red or Dead’ and more recently, the setting up of Hemingway Design, which specialises in affordable and social design.

Penny Mallory’s keynote speech will be will be particularly motivating as she’ll be sharing the ups and downs of her story (from a homeless young person to Rally Champion), inspiring our members to achieve greater things for themselves.

I will also be giving a KBSA and Industry update, along with Uwe Hanneck, KBSA’s CEO and Board member Alastair Reed.

What are you hoping that KBSA members get out of it?

It’s a special year for the KBSA, and it will be a special conference. I hope our members get the opportunity to participate in some useful and positive networking between themselves and learn things that they are able to take back and use in their businesses straight away.

In my time, through this event, I’ve created supportive relationships that have helped me do things differently and for the better. I hope that the members will go away with ideas and inspiration that help them move their businesses forward, as it helped me with mine.


The KBSA is the only trade association operating specifically for the KBB industry, and represents independent KBB specialists. It was founded in 1978. Over 100 brands supplying the industry support the Association and its key objective of promoting the professionalism and excellence available from the independent specialist retailer. www.kbsa.org.uk