World Retail Congress, the world’s leading strategic forum for research, content and events in the retail industry took place in Barcelona on April 25th to 27th, with the theme “Retail Leadership for Extraordinary Times”.

NRA 2022 Young Retailer of the Year recipient Stephen Poole was last year awarded the visit to Spain for the three-day conference. NRA’s annual retail awards recognise our emerging retail leaders, and for Stephen and other young people making their start in retail, the opportunity to learn about what the industry has to offer on a global scale has gifted him the experience of a lifetime.

With headline keynote sessions from the likes of Professor Scott Galloway speaking on industry forecasts and trends, to retail CEO panels featuring renowned household brands, Stephen said it was an event that inspired and informed.

My favourite moment was the panel discussions about bricks and mortar retail. A lot has changed since this arm of retail was under stress from pandemic lockdowns and restrictions, but I learned that there is a new retail environment for bricks and mortar, and there are some incredible initiatives out there for driving customers back in-store and keep store staff engaged,” Stephen said.

The event focused on four key premises that are required of retailers and businesses today: resilient retail, purposeful retail, transformational retail, and customer-focused retail.

“The passion in the room from respective leaders in their categories sharing their insights was infectious.

“A standout from this were the discussions on diversity, equality and inclusion. We are yet to see its full impact here in Australia and New Zealand, but I walked away from these networking and development sessions feeling energised and excited about the future of the industry,” Stephen said.

In this new era of retail, fostering collaboration and partnerships among retailers, rather than competing, was emphasised by WRC as the key to weathering the economic storms we’re currently in and prospering in the long term.

“I am incredibly grateful for the unique opportunity to interact with retailers whom I would usually wouldn’t be able to access.

“With aspirations to become an executive leader myself in the near future, I am confident to take what I have learned, particularly across DEI initiatives, recruitment and brand engagement, to support my retail team and build our brand and business purpose.”

The National Retail Association is the voice of modern retail, representing more than 60,000 stores across Australia. It has been serving businesses in the retail and fast-food sectors for close to 100 years.

For more information, please contact the NRA media unit at [email protected] or 1800 RETAIL (738 245).