By James Wells
HVAR, CROATIA: The closing speech of the 2010 Narta conference by recently retired Fisher & Paykel chief executive officer, John Bongard, has recommended the group consider a global future in the USA, UK and Europe, with membership outside Australasia.
Bongard, who retired from Fisher & Paykel Appliances in September 2009, addressed the 150 delegates at the conference about the importance of strong relationships in business.
“An opportunity that Narta may wish to consider right now is the formation of a truly global buying group,” Bongard said.
“As we all know this has been tried in the past but, in my view, the participants and their timing was simply not right. The effects of the global financial crisis on all global participants in the electrical retailing industry has meant, and will mean, that only the strong will survive.
“A combined Australasian/North American/European buying group would put this group on an equal if not better scale than the likes of Sears, Lowe’s and Home Depot,” he said.
“The pace of change in this industry is incredible. Whether you are whitegoods, browngoods, small appliances or services, the same applies. Coping with that rate of change is a key challenge for you all. It is in fact quite simple: the fast will survive, the slow will fail — and that doesn’t matter whether you are big or small.
“Narta has a huge role to play in the ongoing strength and survival of independent retailers in Australasia and I take my hat off to the board, the executive and the members of Narta for recognising the Trans-Tasman opportunity when they saw it.”
The conference concluded with a surprise performance from tenor Paul Potts, the winner of the first series of Britain’s Got Talent in 2007, who sang in honour of Bongard’s contribution to the industry.