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IRC 2014 PREVIEW Tide, Time and Place

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We’re previewing this year’s Internet Retailing Conference (IRC 2014) in a series that looks ahead to the October 14 event. Today we take a look at the conference and its speakers.

Refoundationing is the theme of IRC 2014. It’s used to describe the process by which leading UK retailers, from M&S and Mothercare to B&Q and Argos, are transforming their businesses, putting digital first for a future in which customers will expect to shop in new, different and constantly-evolving ways. In the words of Austrian philosopher Otto Neurath, “We are like sailors who on the open seas must reconstruct their ship but are never able to start afresh from the bottom.”

At IRC 2014 we’ll be hearing from retail leaders who have led their multichannel and ecommerce businesses through times of transformation, who will go straight to the heart of their digital transformation. In his opening keynote (9.10am) Mark Lewis, online director at John Lewis, will say innovation and investment are “key to omnichannel success,” while Jérome Cochet, senior vice president sales at Zalando, (9.40am) says of his company’s achievements: “We speak European: localisation is key to our international success.” Meanwhile, in the final opening keynote (10.10am), Andy Harding, executive director, multichannel at House of Fraser, will explore the retailer’s decision to put mobile design first.

The theme then expands into three streams: track 1 is built around the theme of Tide, and retailers including Jason Miller, co-founder of Motorcycle Superstore (11.20am), Simon Belsham, managing director Tesco Grocery Home Shopping (12.30pm), Alex Murray, manager, web and multichannel development, Waitrose (3.55pm) will analyse the development of their retail businesses through issues affected by the ebbs and flow of retail. John Straw, chairman of the Digital Advisory Board at Thomas Cook (4.30pm), closes the stream with a keynote focusing on innovation.

The theme of Track 2 is Time, in which retail realities from real-time to long-term will be covered by speakers including Mike Durbridge, omnichannel director at B&Q (11.55am), Chuck Cantrell, head of ecommerce solutions at Clarks (12.30pm) and David Walmsley, director, M& (3.55pm). The closing keynote, from Franck Zayan president of ecommerce at Condé Nast International (4.30pm) focuses on the blurring of publishing and retail.

Finally, Track 3, Place, challenges the notion of location in today’s retailing, where shoppers can buy from anywhere that they choose through mobile devices. Speakers in this track include Chantal Restivo-Alessi, chief digital officer at HarperCollins Publishers Worldwide (11.20am), Valérie Dassier, ebusiness, CRM and customer service director at Comptoir des Cotonniers (11.55am), and Kirsty Garrish, global ecommerce director at Bally (3.55pm). A closing keynote, Anytime, Anywhere, comes from The Coca-Cola Company’s Mark Elkins, vice president, digital sales and marketing and Leonardo O’Grady, NWEN director integrated marketing communications.

The Internet Retailing Conference 2014 takes place at the Novotel, Hammersmith on October 14. For more detail on the speakers and agenda visit

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