On Friday 1st July, Combined Independent Holdings (CIH), which represents the Euronics buying group in the UK, hosted a glittering Independents Day Gala Evening at the Natural History Museum in London's South Kensington. The event was attended by 450 of the group's retailers and suppliers, who were all welcomed at the museum entrance by CIH chairman Steve Scogings, and guests enjoyed a three-course meal followed by dancing. Funds were also raised in a charity raffle in aid of The Children's Trust.
In a speech welcoming guests at the start of the evening, recently appointed CIH CEO Paul Tyler said: "The purpose of this evening was to have a party to celebrate our achievement of us all in working through the challenges that Covid and the Lockdowns presented us all, and that is still the plan! As an industry, we survived many of the challenges Covid presented us all commercially, and I believe as independents we have come out even stronger as a channel. We’ve grown faster than the market and naturally regained some of the share we had lost in the years prior to Covid."
He went on to touch on how in previous years the challenges had come in the form of "the fall-out from the mighty two, Curry’s and Comet battling it out" and the birth of online trading. He revealed that CIH is developing its online offering in order to support retailers in this area. "This will ensure we continue to take further share, and at the same time ensuring the revenue stays in our High Streets and local communities," he said.
Outlining the current challenges facing the sector, he said: "It seems that the suppliers themselves wish to also trade direct and we cannot be a cheap showroom for them. I have asked the project team within CIH to review this and, we will need to work with suppliers to understand their strategies and whether they are aligned to ours. Personally, I don’t blame any of the colleagues from the suppliers with us this evening, the direction is from their head offices... We will however need to decide which brands we support from our warehouses, and as members you are naturally free to support whichever ones you wish to."
He concluded by adding: "With change comes opportunity and, we have demonstrated as a CIH family we can take these on and, win together!"