Annual Consumer, Leisure & Retail Dinner 2016

Published: 27 June 2016

Berwick Partners, Odgers Berndtson and Odgers Interim hosted this years’ Annual Midlands Consumer & Retail Dinner on Thursday 23rd June 2016 at Hampton Manor, Birmingham.  This annual dinner has become a popular event over the years and provides a great opportunity for leaders of the Consumer & Retail business community across the Midlands to come together.  This year saw a significant number of Chief Executives, Chair and Non-Executive Directors from a range of different industries attending.  

Guest speaker for the evening was David Armstrong, CEO Wasps & Arena Coventry Limited and the man charged with bringing Wasps Rugby Club to the Midlands – not an insignificant challenge.  David joined Wasps in 2014 and played a significant role in the acquisition of the Ricoh Arena in the Autumn later that year.  Prior to joining Wasps, David held various senior commercial positions and director positions within the FMCG/Consumer and Retail sectors with the likes of Diageo, PepsiCo, Compass and latterly McArthurGlen.

David gave an insightful and highly entertaining speech, followed by an extensive question and answer session.  Initially sighting that no other Rugby Club or in fact no other sporting franchise has ever relocated mid-season!!  However despite such a challenge Wasps did relocate, purchasing the Ricoh Arena in Coventry and building a new railway station to help service the stadium and arena.  This subsequently made the venue a 365 days a year location and Wasps Rugby Club became the number one rugby club in the world in terms of turnover.  

David then continued to push the club and team to new achievements; listing Wasps Rugby Club on the London Stock Exchange, securing a new and very lucrative shirt sponsorship deal with Jaguar Land Rover, refurbishing the integrated hotel facility which is now successfully run by Double Tree by Hilton, as well as successfully hosting sell-out concerts for the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Rihanna and the Kaiser Chiefs.  All of which was achieved whilst Wasps have secured an average home attendance of over 17,000, experienced double-digit growth and finished in third place in last season’s Aviva Premiership.

All these accomplishments have been aided greatly by David and his excellent team transferring their well-developed FMCG/Consumer Goods and Retail principles into the world of Sports and Leisure.

The evening provided fantastic insight into a business that has experienced significant change in recent years, and is now reaping the rewards of taking such bold steps.  The question and answer session provided an opportunity for our guests to delve deeper into the topic, and it was clear from the questions that David’s talk had provided real food for thought for our audience.

Simon Walton is the Managing Partner of Berwick Partners' Consumer, Leisure & Retail Practice

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