RetailFest UK
Putting Innovation at the Heart of Retail

22nd June – Oakley Court, Windsor
Follow us on our RetailFest UK journey…
From stepping off the coach to watching our very own Tom Jones take centre stage at the RetailRocks summer solstice party

The coaches pulled up at Oakley Court, carrying all of the brilliant storytellers, moderators, members and partners for the day. Attendees then made their way through the sunlit entrance, receiving a warm welcome from The Hive team, and an interactive and sustainable Blendology badge to accompany them on their journey. One tap, and attendees could digitally gather the information they needed to build valuable connections, and seamlessly interact with fellow RetailFest UK-goers in the future.

And the numbers don’t lie… With over 300 attendees and a whopping 6,000 unique connections made onsite, attendees will be busy catching up with each other as we speak!

But First, Let Me Take a Selfie

Along the way, attendees lost themselves in the many photo opportunities and Instagrammable moments—butterfly stilt walkers, flower walls, a close look at DHL’s ride, and so much more…

Glastonbury, Who?

The man, the myth, the legend… RetailFest UK mastermind, Adam Plom kicked off the meeting with the occasional Glastonbury reference (boo!), before inviting four innovation leaders to the stage:

Geri Hebberd, Senior Director, Future Operational, Asda
Jo Hickson, Head of Labs, Tesco Technology and Group Innovation, Tesco
Stuart Ramage, Head of Digital Strategy and Innovation, Marks & Spencer
Fiona Brown, Director of Digital Transformation, Boots

Representing some of the UK’s biggest brands, the group discussed how experimental partnerships can open up new revenue streams and reach untapped customer demographics, along with accelerating omnichannel capabilities by creating a culture of open innovation through start-ups and strategic acquisitions. Journalist and broadcaster, David McClelland kindly moderated and guided the discussion.

Throughout the day, there were so many incredible and actionable insights shared on the Innovation Stage, which we’re excited to explore in our upcoming, post-meeting playbook. Stay tuned for more…

Bringing New Ideas to the Table

Over in the Tea Tent, it was time for attendees to sit round the table and unpack some of the many topics dominating the industry. From leveraging influencers and micro-influencers to connecting the omnichannel dots and doing more with less, there was some real food for thought shared.

Sustainability means different things to different brands. Education, buy-in from senior management, and full team support are all key to minimising environmental impact. As one member remarked, “train, don’t shame.”

In today’s world, loyalty and sustainability go hand in hand, and brands should look to personalise customer communication and experiences in their own way—avoiding simply copying and pasting what other retailers are doing. “Personalise your personalisation!”

Seemingly, a 360º view of the customer is much easier for digital-first retail organisations.

In between rounds, attendees were able to sink their teeth into some real food, which was far from your usual (boring) event nibbles…

Time to Refuel

Pizza, dumplings, sushi, salad… You name it, we had it. For those with a sweet tooth, there was a selection of pick and mix classics—evoking a real feeling of nostalgia—and ice cream aplenty for those wanting to cool off in the shade.

Wandering Hands were the perfect lunchtime entertainment, asking various attendees for songs they’d love to hear live and providing acoustic renditions of these.

After eating lunch and relaxing in the sunshine, attendees could make their way to the life-size, inflatable Stonehenge for some ‘bouncy fun’ (blame Ops for that one), burning off any excess energy before the afternoon sessions began.

Others opted for a seat along the river, watching the boats sail by, and taking in the breeze and beautiful surroundings.

The countdown was on for the RetailRocks summer solstice party…

Mic Drop

As the sun slowly began to set, Hand Fulla Soul got the party started over by the bar. From then on, attendees could indulge in great food, drink, music, and of course, company. It wouldn’t be a Hive party without some sort of surprise. Cue Tom Jones joining the fabulous Hand Fulla Soul on stage…

Alongside our friends at Macmillan Cancer Support and the magical Oliver B., it really was a night to remember!

To our amazing members and partners, thank you for joining us at our first-ever RetailFest UK meeting and making it so special. 💚

New year, same party. Secure your spot today!

Register for 2024

As with all good festivals, tickets are limited…

Seeing and hearing our very own Tom Jones and his incredible rendition of Superstition by Stevie Wonder! It was epic, it was fun, it was authentic and again, it highlighted what RetailFest was all about—teams, togetherness, collaboration, learning whilst having fun, and being happy and relaxed 🙂 #RetailFestvibes”

Noj Mather, Co-Founder

Team Highlights

My highlight was having some of our lovely members come up to me to say that they had never experienced a retail event like this before, with such a great vibe and speaker line-up! Second highlight was racing Tom at Scribbler across the giant bouncy castle!”

Mike Nelson, Head of Member Acquisition

My highlight was that whole teams joined us; they were able to attend the individual roundtables matched to their roles, and then come back together to give actionable insights for the business.

In this way, the festival is key for breaking company silos, giving a 360 company view, and driving team discussions about how departments can work better together. This is a unique occurrence in the industry, and the reason why whole teams should be joining us.”

Rose Crowhurst, Senior Community Manager

“The Wandering Hands band! They sounded amazing and it was so fun to watch them play to different groups on the tables, and hearing everyone sing along.”

Lydia Rose Clarry, Growth Executive

My highlight was hearing that based on onsite conversations at RetailFest, a partner was able to get onto two RFPs with retailers.”

Tom Jones, Key Account Director

“I don’t know how to pick just one thing! There were so many highlights throughout the day! However, personally, I think the venue for me was one of my favourites. Watching it transform was incredible. It worked so well and made you feel like you were at an actual festival! With all the different food trucks, unique tents with the branded bunting, live music, and lastly, the life-size, inflatable Stonehenge!!! It was a great day!”

Heidi Harrington, Event Manager

“For me, above everything, it was seeing the attendees ENJOY everything we’d put on. We knew the venue was amazing, but people needed to see it. We knew they’d love the setup, but they needed to experience it. We knew they’d love the food and drink, but they needed to taste it. To see those moments, where it all came to life, was so great.”

Adam Plom, Event Director

“Seeing the pure excitement and shock on people’s faces from the moment they arrived at registration. Seeing the areas we had created across the site in the glorious sunshine, it was just the perfect setting for an unbelievable day. Also explaining how our Blendology badges worked and included not only their name badge, but their agenda for the day AND they only had to tap together to exchange details… attendees were mind blown. 🤯

Amy Beckwith, Operations Director 

“Getting the opportunity to work Judi Faithfull once again as she joined the team for this project to break the mould, and create the most valuable and magical day for all attendees. Oh, and the food trucks! I even forgot where I was over lunch with all of the choices on the menu and the buzzy vibe, topped off by the afternoon sweets and ice cream!!!”

Lydia Matthews, Chief Operations Officer

“It’s extremely difficult as the day was amazing from start to finish! However, a highlight for my day was the first introduction to the Innovation Stage, when attendees were connecting via their Blendology badges for the first time. The atmosphere/buzz in the tent was amazing as they tapped badges and introduced themselves. You could just feel that everyone was already loving it so early on!”

Grace Elliott, Marketing Manager

“It was great to see the roundtable discussions come to life in the Tea Tent, and hear all of the brilliant insights being shared by members and partners alike! As a film fan, being able to explore The Rocky Horror Picture Show castle whilst onsite was also a truly memorable experience.”

Lorna Andrews, Platform Manager

The opening panel on innovation starring Asda, Tesco, M&S, and Boots. It set the tone perfectly—our panellists were generous and honest with the insight they shared; they kept the energy high and it made for a genuinely inspirational start to the day.

And I keep getting Kodachrome flashbacks of my travels around the RetailFest site—seeing people deep in conversation, seeing people laughing and having fun, dancing, bouncing on sacrilege, and seeing our fabulous team totally owning it!”

Sally Green, Co-Founder

“The biggest highlight for me was the incredible atmosphere onsite and seeing all of the huge smiles on people’s faces from start to finish, as well as exceeding the expectations of both members and partners. To be told we went above and beyond what we promised to deliver by several attendees, and receive such wonderful feedback has been so touching and fulfilling. The outdoor venue was also unlike anything we’d seen before and created the perfect experience!”

Taz Shariff, Retail Consultant

“Seeing the whole Dr. Martens team of 8 enjoying lunch sat down by the banks of the Thames, being serenaded by the Wandering Hands band singing an acoustic version of Angels by Robbie Williams, with the sun basking down and everyone’s face wore a broad smile, with some singing along! A Kodak moment. So memorable and it was a perfect picture of what RetailFest was about. Teams, togetherness, collaboration, learning whilst having fun, and being happy and relaxed 🙂 #RetailFestvibes”

Noj Mather, Co-Founder

What I’ve loved the most about working on the first-ever RetailFest UK meeting has been the outstanding response—not only on the day, but in the lead up to and following the meeting. It’s become clear that the industry needed a change, and it really feels like we’ve given birth to a new beast here.

It’s been amazing to see the momentum that’s gathered and product that’s blossomed from something which less than a year ago, was just an idea on paper! So excited to see this continue and what there is to come for the future of RetailFest UK. What a journey it’s been, and it’s just the beginning…”

Frankie Shand, Senior Marketing Manager

For me, it was seeing everything come to life—from the nighttime build to the Thursday sundowner… The custom-erected waterside Innovation Stage, the many beautiful Oakley Court tents and cabanas, Guns N’ Roses blaring out, Team Hive running around in our orange shirts, catching up with Retail Hivers and meeting so many new faces, the energy between everybody onsite… The list goes on! I enjoyed every minute and can’t wait to go again in ‘24.”

Kate Rowney, Marketing Director