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DISTREE XXL 2011: Q&A

by Stuart Wilson, Tuesday 28 September 2010

DISTREE XXL is the largest independent gathering of vendors, distributors and e-tailers selling through the information communications technology (ICT) and consumer electronics (CE) channel in Europe, Middle East & Africa (EMEA). DISTREE Events’ CEO Farouk Hemraj looks ahead to next year’s premier distribution event.

DISTREE XXL is taking place for the ninth year in succession in 2011, from February 8-11th in Monaco. DISTREE XXL 2011 promises to continue a long tradition of business development success, providing the perfect platform for vendors looking to manage, build or launch volume distribution channels within the EMEA region.

DISTREE XXL continues to attract a unique blend of established and emerging vendors, providing opportunities for all distributors to derive real business value from their participation at the event. Hundreds of distribution agreements are signed each year as a result of business relationships that begin or deepen at DISTREE XXL.

At its simplest level, DISTREE XXL is the ultimate matchmaker for vendors and first tier business partners in the EMEA region. The number of vendors and distributors represented at DISTREE XXL creates compelling economies of scale for delegates. In this exclusive Q&A session, Farouk Hemraj, CEO at DISTREE Events, explains how DISTREE XXL continues to evolve and some of the exciting innovations planned for 2011.

Independent platform

Q: What’s the basic idea behind DISTREE XXL? What does the event aim to achieve?

FH: DISTREE XXL aims to provide the greatest return on the time spent by all our delegates attending the event – be they vendors, distributors, e-tailers or even expert speakers. DISTREE XXL has maintained its position as an independent event platform and it is the size and strength of the channel community that gathers together that makes the event unique in EMEA. If you’re a vendor that’s new to the EMEA region, DISTREE XXL gives you the chance to find and interact with potential distribution partners through a highly organised one-on-one meeting system.

If you’re a vendor that already has a distribution channel up and running in EMEA, DISTREE XXL is the perfect event to assess their performance, carry out reviews, identify potential new distributors and gain a better understanding of the competitive landscape. We bring together all the major stakeholders from the first tier distribution channel in one place at one time – that is a powerful proposition. Many vendors save significant amounts of time and money by holding their own distribution conferences or review sessions within the DISTREE XXL framework.

For the distributors themselves, DISTREE XXL is often described as ‘action packed’. Not only do they have the chance to meet up with potential new vendors, they can also hold meetings with existing partners, meet their peers and also attend market insight presentations as part of the conference programme. They can achieve all this in three days at DISTREE XXL and that’s why the event attracts the most senior distribution executives from across EMEA. We have the regional management team from global giants such as Ingram Micro attending the event. At the other end of the spectrum we will have the start-up specialist distributors looking to carve out a niche and sign new vendors.

Q: So how is a typical day structured for a delegate at DISTREE XXL 2011?

FH: Let’s be clear here; DISTREE XXL is not a traditional trade show, nor is it a typical conference. We have developed a powerful agenda based on pre-scheduled one-on-one meetings, workshop sessions with channel experts, keynote presentations, awards ceremonies, evening functions, forums, panel discussions and networking opportunities. It’s an intense few days, but one that is ultimately beneficial for their business.

All vendors attending DISTREE XXL 2011 have the opportunity to participate in our revamped ’60 Seconds to Convince’ competition where they make a one minute promotional video for their latest product. Vendors shortlisted by a jury then take part in a live final in the main auditorium before distributors vote live for their preferred products.

We are also introducing the Live@DISTREE session at next year’s event. This is structured like a TV chat show with numerous vendors appearing on stage to speak with the moderator about their business strategy, their technologies and their channel approach. It’s an interactive and informative session that will really appeal to our distribution delegates that are considering working with new vendors.

Changing market

Q: Have we not reached a stage now where the vendor and distributor landscapes are very clearly mapped out in EMEA? Are there really that many changes from year-to-year?

FH: The vendor landscape is amazing to watch in terms of the emergence and development of new companies - and even new product segments. In fact, these new vendors are often set up by executives that have left a more established vendor for that very reason. Our team puts in a great deal of time and effort to identify these vendors and explain to them the benefits of DISTREE XXL. Who would have thought 12 months ago that iPad accessories would become a vibrant new category with dozens of vendors aiming to capture a slice of the market? As long as there is innovation in the ICT & CE market, we will see a constant flow of new vendors looking to meet the changing needs of consumers in EMEA – and all these companies require an effective channel-to-market.

What we also see is new specialist distributors emerging to take these products to market. When these distributors reach a critical mass they may well become acquisition targets for larger players. The point I’m trying to make is that the EMEA channel never stands still. There are constant cycles of growth and development from both the vendor and distributor perspective.

Look at Redington’s recent decision to acquire a stake in Arena in Turkey. Look at the implications of the Also-Actebis deal on the European distribution landscape. We’re also seeing a wave of consolidation in South African distribution. Let’s not forget that we’re also talking about 80-plus individual countries within EMEA each with their own unique channel characteristics. Vendors come to DISTREE XXL and we ask the key partners from these markets to come and meet them. For the channel partners, DISTREE XXL means meeting multiple vendors in one place at one time – that’s a highly attractive proposition for them.

Q: E-tailers are also now invited to DISTREE XXL? What prompted the decision to involve e-tailers and what value do they bring to the audience mix?

FH: E-tailers are having an increasing influence on the distribution of volume ICT & CE products in the EMEA region – from auction sites such as eBay through to supermarkets like Tesco and specialist e-tailers like Amazon. The interesting point here is where these companies fit into the traditional channel structure; and the answer is that don’t fit in cleanly. We have analysed the channel models of e-tailers across EMEA and seen that some like to have a direct buying relationship with the vendor and then turn to a distributor for fulfillment. Our aim at DISTREE XXL 2011 is to allow vendors to reach out to all the first-tier partners they need to maximise their sales channel in EMEA – and that means inviting some of the region’s main e-tailers. Distributors also benefit from their presence, because the e-tailers are potential users of their in-country services and expertise.

Q: The ‘EMEA Channel Academy: 2011 Awards’ take place in conjunction with DISTREE XXL 2011. With so many different awards programmes in EMEA, what makes these awards stand out?

FH: Three words: live electronic voting. The ‘EMEA Channel Academy: 2011 Awards’ are unique in that the winners are decided live at the Gala Dinner. We have distributors voting live for their preferred vendors across 12 product categories. We then have vendor executives with EMEA channel responsibility voting live for their preferred distributor by region.

We carry out extensive polling of our channel database prior to the awards ceremony to come up with a shortlist of five nominated companies in each category. When all is said and done, there is no better feeling for a vendor than knowing that they have been voted best in class by hundreds of distributors using a fair, transparent and democratic process. This applies to distributor winners too.

The success of the awards has led us to increase the number of product categories in 2011 with the introduction of mobile communications, home networking, gaming, storage and imaging as separate awards. We will also launch the ‘EMEA Channel Academy: Hall of Fame’ and induct a limited number of executives into this exclusive club for their lifetime contribution to the EMEA channel.

Q: So what else is new at DISTREE XXL 2011?

FH: It’s not new, but 2011 is the first year that we are actively promoting the Strategy Forum as part of DISTREE XXL 2011. This is an exclusive invitation only conference track that brings together the 30 most senior distribution executives in EMEA with the leading channel managers from A-brand vendors. The 2011 Strategy Forum offers a half-day programme discussing topical channel issues, networking and hearing expert analysis from a wide range of channel speakers. The strength of DISTREE XXL 2011 is our independence and our ability to offer a neutral event platform. This means we can bring in speakers from many different channel organisations in one place at one time.

Q: Do you allow press to attend DISTREE XXL 2011 or is it a closed event? If they are allowed to attend, what can they expect to see and hear?

FH: The channel press and technology publications in EMEA play a vital role in helping vendors promote new products and build partner awareness. We welcome all of these publications to apply for a DISTREE XXL 2011 press pass. At DISTREE XXL 2011 we have a Power Hour conference session where A-brand vendors take the stage to discuss their strategy in the region. Last year we had Acer, HP, Lenovo and Microsoft – expect some changes for 2011.

We also have an incredible array of research available for press and delegates at DISTREE XXL. From the event directory which profiles each and every vendor and distributor through to workshop sessions covering all manner of topical subjects. bChannels, Channel Experts, Context, Gartner, GfK, IDC and Regent all presented last year alongside many other channel experts. We look forward to inviting all these companies to join us again at DISTREE XXL 2011 and plan to strengthen the speaker line-up even further.


DISTREE XXL 2011

Top distributors and e-tailers from across the EMEA region are invited to attend DISTREE XXL 2011, the premier event for the regional ICT and CE channel, from February 8-11th in Monaco.

DISTREE XXL gathers 400-plus senior executives from EMEA’s Information Communications Technologies (ICT) & Consumer Electronics (CE) volume distribution channel.

During the course of the three-day event, delegates take part in thousands of pre-scheduled one-on-one meetings with hundreds of vendors. Each year, hundreds of new distribution agreements are struck across EMEA as a result of business relationships initiated at DISTREE XXL.

DISTREE XXL 2011 will also build on successful initiatives launched at last year’s sold out event including a regional awards ceremony. The ‘EMEA Channel Academy: 2011 Awards’ will include more than a dozen awards handed out to vendors and distributors from across the region. www.distree.com/xxl

Follow the build-up to DISTREE XXL 2011 www.twitter.com/distreexxl

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