By James Wells

WHISTLER, CANADA: The 2009 Narta conference, that started without a theme and just a question mark, has crystallised to be represented by one word and that is, ‘leadership’, according to the group’s general manager, Michael Jackson.

In his speech, Jackson reflected on other presentations at the conference and asked both retailers and suppliers gathered in the room to work together in this challenging environment.

“Along with the feedback you have provided us during this conference, we wanted the theme to be born out the combined minds of this industry,” Jackson said in his presentation.

“Something we are all passionate about driving — our theme will be our guiding principle for the year ahead. The theme established to drive us through the storm clouds to sunny skies. Our 2009 theme is leadership,” he said.

“It’s no great revelation, but what I do hope for is every time you think about your people, your relationships, your own personal objectives as well as your companies that word ‘leadership’ will drive you.

“Leadership, it’s what we need to complete the puzzle — display leadership, manage with leadership, guide by leadership, unite through leadership.

“Leadership is: having the courage to implement price rises, trying new ways to do business, even though the current way may not be necessarily broken, continue to invest into your brands and what they stand for even though the market is tough, making decisions that we know will not be liked by everyone and working together, as none of us are as good as all of us.

“This serves to remind us that the future is all about relationships as suppliers, as Narta and as retailers — we are one industry.”