World Department Store Forum

shopping, clothing, bags, shopperThe fourth World Department Store Forum (WDSF) will be held in Rome, Italy from on April 23-24, following the success of previous events.

WDSF brings together executives from the world’s leading department stores and their brands, suppliers, and partners every two years.

The Forum addresses the key issues of department store retailing from both visionary and strategic viewpoints.

This year’s Forum is titled ‘Strengthening Emotional Bonds With Customers’. Fast changing customer behaviours and new innovations in digital communications, supply chains and information technology systems are reshaping the retail arena.

More and more channels are courting the same customers, resulting in even fiercer competition. Department stores and brands are embracing these ‘technology gifts’ by deepening their connections with customers and revealing and sharing their compelling stories about their people, products and stores.

They have been able to rely on their high brand awareness, market credibility and existing customer base, but their future success will depend on their ability to effectively tailor their customer relationships and increase loyalty.

At WDSF 2015, around 20 seasoned retail specialists and CEOs from department stores and brands will explain how they are shaping their companies to respond to future challenges in the following sessions:

‘Global Consumer Trends & Millennials’

A lead professor of Kelley School of Business will explain the unique economic and behavioural characteristics of Millennials. How are they using information and digital devices and what are their spending patterns? What does it mean for department stores and brands?

Session 1: ‘The Power of Digital Communication & Connectivity’

Omni-channel and online technology operations have become a ‘standard’ at leading companies. What company culture and leadership are required to successfully synchronize online and offline? How can digital communication improve strong brand equity, loyalty scheme programmes and customer services? Leaders of AKQA, Coin & Excelsior Milano and Woolworths will share their latest experiences and developments.

Session 2 – ‘Celebrating Beauty & Style’

Pioneering style, beauty and fashion is a great mission of department stores and brands. A fast-changing environment requires constant innovation and a permanent focus on customers. How can you successfully follow trends and stay true to your DNA? How can you differentiate from competitors when brands and concepts are available and comparable in a click? CEOs of Studio Fuksas and Brown Thomas will present some of their most successful developments in this area.

Session 3 – ‘Excellence Drives Emotion’

In the face of fiercer competition, top retailers have responded with new and improved services, a better assortment selection and more dedicated customer service teams. In this quest for perfection, how do you build an organisation of excellence? How can you enhance the in-store and product experience and connect more with customers? The CEOs of Swatch Group and Maserati will highlight some world-class examples, relating to management styles, product innovations and customer connections. The director of the Human Brain Project will explain the triggers that create emotion and how they can be translated to retailing.

Session 4 – The Magic of Food & Hospitality in a Department Store

Food has changed its role from a ‘traffic builder’ to ‘new fashion department’ and many stores have now opened food halls and restaurants. What concepts and business models are the best fits for department stores? How can department stores handle the specific challenges of the food trade? These and more topics will be addressed by the three leaders of Eataly, La Place and Le Bon Marché.

Session 5 – ‘CEO Round Table – Management Style & Leadership’

A new generation of customers means a new generation of employees to manage along with grasping the technological advances in this area. What are the implications for retailers and how can you adapt the organisation to these changes? What type of executives will best address the future of department stores? How can you ensure that department stores remain relevant to all stakeholders? CEOs of Gruppo Coin, Isetan Mitsukoshi and Thoreau Capital will share their views, reveal examples and compare notes with round table chair Bernie Brookes, CEO of Myer Holdings.

Session 6 – Design & Art in Retailing

Recently, department stores have intensified their collaboration with brands, designers and artists. Spectacular in-store events promoting their works have demonstrated the impact and resonance of these partnerships. So, how are department stores successfully integrating art and design in retail environments? How can you define the role of art and design within a business strategy and translate it to the floor? CEOs of Printemps and La Rinascente and a Partner of McKinsey will explain the importance of art and design for department stores.

Each session will end with a moderated CEOs panel discussion, where delegates can join the discussion.

WDSF Awards

The World Department Store Forum is proud to announce two new awards to shape and set the tone in department store retailing:

World’s Best Sales Associate at Department Stores 2015
World’s Best In-Store Campaign at Department Stores 2015.

Both trophies will be presented for the first time on 23rd April 2015 at the WDSF’s Official Dinner. The Award winners will showcase their inspiring stories on stage to offer the audience some working examples of excellence.

Optional Store Visit – Coin Excelsior

Gruppo Coin is inviting WDSF delegates to an optional Store Visit to their latest concept store Coin Excelsior in Rome on Friday afternoon. Located on the ultra-central Via Cola Di Rienzo, the 4,300m2 features carefully selected Italian and international fashion names in Art Nouveau surroundings. This premium department store is a step in a new direction for the historic brand and is a must-see.

WDSF is a unique discussion-based platform focusing on department store and brand issues, dedicated to retail decision-makers from around the world. Participants can analyse the latest and most innovative developments at the world’s leading department stores and discover the strategies and ideas of experienced retailers.

WDSF is the place to connect with retail and department store leaders during the sessions, panel discussions, official dinner and award ceremony. Delegates will leave Rome inspired, with a range of ideas which can be immediately applied, and new industry relationships.

It is advised to register before 22 March 2015. Details about WDSF 2015 and how to register are available at WDSF 2015 is organized by Gruppo Coin and IGDS (Intercontinental Group of Department Stores).

For more information, contact Véronique Morelle on +33 1 45 44 38 03 or

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