talking trade


Samm Swain takes to the stage in Toronto…

Samm Swain, buying & merchandising director of housewares chain Lakeland, reflects on her recent invitation from the International Housewares Association to deliver the UK retailer presentation at its IBC 2018 Global Forum in Toronto

some key information about Lakeland from a supplier’s point of view: who we are, which channels we sell through, what our product offer looks like, what’s important to us, what we represent to our customers, what we expect from our suppliers - and what we give in return. At Lakeland we treat our suppliers with respect,

and strive to know our customers and products inside out. And when you bring all this together, we do a great job of selling products, both branded and own-brand (no apologies for the certainty in this statement or the associated pride). The session was well received, leaving me in

“ I

t was a real honour to be asked by the International Housewares Association (IHA) to talk at its International Business

Council (IBC) Global Forum in Toronto about my favourite subject – Lakeland! I was presenting to a captive audience of US and

Canadian suppliers, along with various international members of the IHA team. It helped that there were a couple of Lakeland fans in the audience - although it’s hard (I now know) to present to a room of Americans and not get caught up in the positivity and excitement. I had been asked to walk the attendees through

every retailer’s dream situation: a room full of suppliers wanting me to love their product and do it justice in the UK. Other than my own presentation, I was able to

attend the wider conference, including some one- to-ones with a few suppliers, several presentations from other retailers (including Canadian Tire and Wayfair), and some very informative sessions on trade terms and international business. I thought the sessions would be interesting, but I

hadn’t appreciated just how much I would get from them. They were very thought-provoking and worthwhile. The IHA were fantastic hosts and went out of their

way to make the event a success: fantastic, yet relaxing networking opportunities, a tabletop trade show to complete the final day - and attendance by

people who really wanted to be there and make the most of the opportunity. I can honestly say that I’ve never before left a

conference or event feeling as though every attendee was a new friend, but the American and Canadian suppliers could not have done more to put me at ease. Of course, it helps that anyone who has been in

retail for 10 years or more tends to have a heart- warming memory (first- or second-hand) of Martin Rayner’s gentlemanly charm and genuine approach that they will always associate with Lakeland! [Martin is a a part-owner of Lakeland who retired from his day-to-day role within Lakeland’s buying team in 2014, after 42 years working for the business that his father founded in 1964.] I’m delighted that I was given this chance to meet

some great people, learn more about international retail, discover some fab products, and see the wonderful city of Toronto.”

• The International Business Council (IBC) is a special interest group of International Housewares Association (IHA) members, dedicated to helping its membership market and sell their products in key export markets. The Global Forum is an annual conference aimed at sales

professionals. Attendees learn from key international retailers and distributors, who share details of their operations and buying practices. Samm took to the stage on September 23 - the first day of the IBC 2018 Global Form, which ran until September 25.

Red Devils Army Parachute Display Team on July 24. Sponsored by housewares brand Victorinox (distributed by Burton McCall), the aim of the exercise was to raise funds for the YMCA Lakeside Stoller Campus. Set on the shore of Lake Windermere, YMCA Lakeside is one of the largest

professional outdoor activity centres in the country that works with schools, youth groups, families and businesses to provide residential and day experiences for over 7,000 young people from a wide range of backgrounds every year. Recalling the event, Samm said: “What an incredible experience! It was an

absolute privilege to skydive with the Red Devils - and an absolute relief to be in such safe hands. “It was one of the most amazing things that I’ve ever done: a total sensory

overload delivering terror, adrenalin, excitement, fun and delight. Thank you to Mohamed and Ruth at Burton McCall for providing us with the opportunity and for doing their very best to keep us calm!” The Lakeland duo’s endeavour raised £1,089 and as a thank you for their efforts, the charity will be naming a bedroom after them in the Stoller Campus.

…and takes the plunge in a charity skydive L

akeland buying & merchandising director Samm Swain and her colleague, head of trading for baking and cooking Libby Heppenstall, successfully completed a tandem skydive with the

Safe landing: (l-r) Libby Heppenstall and Samm Swain

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October/November 2018

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