The very first World Retail Congress held in Barcelona saw more than 1000 senior retailing professionals from 50 nations attend, including delegates from Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, UK and the US. Many of the leading international organisations associated with retail also attended the event, including World Bank (via IFC), World Trade Organisation (WTO), UNCTAD and the European Commission.

A total of 129 professionals also addressed the World Retail Congress, including some of the most successful and well-respected figures in retail today.

Among the highlights of the congress, delegates heard Sir Terry Leahy, CEO of Tesco outlining how he had turned the supermarket chain from a purely UK business to a global power in 10 years, and commenting that with the opportunities provided by the opening up of new markets, now is the best time ever to be in the retail industry.

Pascal Lamy, director general of the WTO, warned of the serious political and economic consequences if the latest round of trade talks falter, and that “five years of negotiations would disappear”.

Also, José Luis Duran, CEO of Carrefour asserted that retailers have nothing to fear from entering emerging markets provided that they have clear local market strategies and are committed to local adaptation and multi formats tailored to very local markets. 

Meanwhile, the World Retail Awards ceremony saw Inditex crowned as Retailer of the Year and IKEA receive the prize for Multi Market Retailer of the Year. 

Other winners included Marks & Spencer (Responsible Retailer of the Year); Pantaloon Retail (Emerging Market Retailer of the Year); Sainsbury’s (Marketing Campaign of the Year); American Girl Place (Innovative Format of the Year); Vodafone (Best Use of Technology); Mall of the Emirates (Retail Destination of the Year). 

Ingvar Kamprad, founder and chairman of IKEA; Gordon Segal, founder and CEO of Crate and Barrel, and Masatoshi Ito, founder of Ito Yokado, were all inducted into the World Retail Hall of Fame. Kate Moss was also honoured as the Consumer Icon of the Year, and delivered her acceptance speech by video link at the awards. 

“We are delighted with the fantastic response from the retail industry to the idea of the World Retail Congress,” comments Ian McGarrigle, congress director, World Retail Congress.

“It was a truly international event and we have already received very positive feedback on the quality of the speakers, the content and the opportunities for high quality networking.”