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LAS VEGAS -- If the first day of the 2007 McLane Trade Show is any indicator, the show will be a complete success for both retailers and McLane. After the opening day of the convention, sales revenues were up 84 percent over 2006's first day results, Roger Grogman, vice president of marketing for McLane, told CSNews Online at the show.
The McLane Trade Show, being held in Las Vegas from Wednesday, March 14, to Friday, March 16, was the place where retail customers could speak one-on-one with the company’s suppliers, view and purchase new products and attend educational sessions on issues concerning the industry. As an added convenience, attendees used wireless handheld devices to place orders at booths, making it simple for retailers to keep track of products and invoices.
In addition, McLane customers that could not attend the show could access McLane’s Virtual Trade Show, a Web-based system where retailers can order products at the same discounts seen at the show. McLane’s Grogman gave CSNews Online a hands-on trial of the service at the show.
After logging onto the site, retailers can select exhibitors attending the show. After selecting a company, retailers can view contact information and available products. By selecting the products they want to receive, retailers can then specify quantity and ship date, and can see the special discounts they are receiving through the site -- the same discounts seen if they were actually at the show.
After adding the products to the cart, retailers can review the total cost and the total savings, as well as specify the quantity to be delivered at each store, Grogman explained.
The Virtual Trade Show is available 14 days after the show ends, allowing retailers that attended the show to place additional orders once they return home, at the same price they would have received if they placed it at the show, he said.
The trade show was also where McLane's updated logo was unveiled. A tractor trailer at the back of the exhibition hall showcased McLane’s new image -- the traditional "McLane" lettering with an updated font, bordered with red stripes, giving it an "edgy" feel, as described by Grogman.
The Trade Show also provided a place where retail customers learned about industry concerns from experts. On Wednesday, Bonnie Herzog, managing director of Citigroup Investment Group, spoke about the state of tobacco industry and her prediction for the future. In her presentation, titled "The Ever Changing & Exciting Tobacco Industry," she told attendees that industry taxation will be moderate in 2007, noting that large increases can inhibit the industry from raising prices, and that California will continue to be a focus, as it represents 9 percent of industry volume.
As smoking bans increase around the country, resulting in lower consumption, Herzog explained that the manufacturing community will have to adjust to the changes. Some of those changes could be increased innovation, such as 'reduced risk' products, or large tobacco companies' entrance into the smokeless tobacco segment. Philip Morris can be expected to enter the market, with a product that leverages the Marlboro name, she said.
Herzog also said that the bill concerning the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) authority over the industry has little chance of passing into law in 2007. If the bill does gain traction and pass, the industry might not be regulated by the existing FDA, but rather, another government body that may be a more logical and productive strategy for all parties involved.
Look for more McLane show coverage in the April 16 issue of Convenience Store News.