By Patrick Avenell

SYDNEY, NSW: Harvey Norman executive director David Ackery has declared his retail group’s conference the best in the industry. Held back in May, at the Dome in Sydney’s Olympic Park, Harvey’s inaugural international get together was a marquee event attracting the biggest brands in the marketplace. As 2009 nears its close, Ackery declared this event the best of its kind.

Over the course of 2009, the retail groups each conducted their own conference or seminar to encourage business relations between retailers and suppliers. Narta, including members JB Hi-Fi, Clive Peeters and David Jones, held its event at Whistler in Canada; Betta Electrical converged on Borneo, in Malaysia; while Retravision Southern kept things close to home in Melbourne. They’re institutions in this industry, and Harvey Norman claims to be leading the pack.

At the time, Ackery said the conference was an important event, “providing [its] franchisees and key business partners with a unique opportunity to interact” over the course of a week. The plan was to make the conference “constructive and memorable”. Ackery said Harveys achieved this without equivocation.

“We’ve had nothing but positive feedback about it,” Ackery told

When asked why Harvey Norman’s was the best in the industry, Ackery said it was because the franchisees are motivated to talk to every exhibitor.

“Our conferences, they get the full attention of the franchisees because we monitor every franchisee and they have to attend every stand.

“Our conference goes for four days and it is full on work for three-and-a-half of those four days.

“You compare that to other conferences that happen in the industry and you tell me if that’s not productive.”

Despite this success, Ackery said the conference would not be held next year, with the Harvey Norman policy to only stage the event “as [they] see fit”. Ackery said it may be two or three years before it is held again.

Did you attend the Harvey Norman conference? Or any other conference this year? Tell me your thoughts.