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Hospice retail reinvents itself at Hospice UK Retail Conference

Author: Elizabeth Palfreman
09 May 2017
  • Volunteer of the Year Phyllis Shepherd, Thames Hospice

More than 200 delegates and exhibitors gathered for the 2017 Retail Conference in Warwick. A new venue indicated the commitment to reinvention while the programme was designed to encourage participants to embrace change to drive hospice retail forward.

The opening plenary  by Nick Aldridge CEO, PayPal Giving Fund and Mike Taylor, Director of Retail at the British Heart Foundation highlighted that charity retail should reflect  the consumer preference for online shopping. In a very informative session Mike spoke about BHF’s approach to mining for treasure from the high street stores, who were given full credit for the sale, via the e-commerce centre in Leeds. Generously, Mike offered a tour for hospices around the Leeds operation. By the amount of interest shown, he may be in for a huge number of visitors.

The Hospice UK Retail Awards were reinvented this year with new categories. After much debate by the judges the awards went to St Christopher’s Hospice for Retail Team of the Year, Martlets Hospice for Specialist Shop of the Year, Thames Hospice who had Phyllis Shepherd as Volunteer of the Year, and St Ann’s Hospice who were very proud to have had the most unusual item donated - this turned out to be an antique birthing stool which caught the attention of the charity press.

Workshops included: The Retail Academy, jointly set up between Willen Hospice, Rennie Grove Hospice and Buckinghamshire New University, Internal audit toolkits for shops, implementing the National Living Wage, and the art and science of retail planning. The latter showcased work conducted between Hospiscare Exeter and CACI, focusing on business decisions. 

In a revolutionary move one workshop was live streamed. The session conducted by Birmingham Trading Standards was titled ‘Fake or Fortune,’ and looked at what shops should be doing to ensure compliance with the law.  Streamed via Facebook Live, 250 people viewed it in real time with another 200 catching up later.  

The founder of Globechain May Al-Karooni, spoke about what inspired her to set up this redistribution social enterprise linking charities with unwanted goods. During her session delegates could be seen logging onto the website to see what treasures could be found and sold for hospice care.

The final session of the day certainly scored on the cute factor when Lorna Fallon of Cats Protection illustrated her talk about the charity’s rapid retail growth with pictures of cute cats.  This session, which highlighted the need to be bold but with calculated risk, saw delegates looking to involve pictures of cute animals into every aspect of their retail offering.

By the end of the day delegates were still buzzing about what they had learnt and what they were going to put into practice.  "Best event ever" was the feedback from one delegate, which lifted  the Hospice UK team as they wended their weary way home already discussing what the 2018 event would look like.

For more information visit Hospice UK Retail Conference 2017

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