Critical Mass: NACDS Readies Megashow

As the National Association of Chain Drug Store's celebrates its 80th anniversary, industry executives are writing a new future for three of its trade shows.

NEW YORK — As the National Association of Chain Drug Store’s celebrates its 80th anniversary, industry executives are writing a new future for three of its major trade shows.

This story first appeared in the February 1, 2013 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

This summer, NACDS will host its first Total Store Expo, which merges its Marketplace, Pharmacy and Technology and Supply Chain & Logistics conferences into one meeting, which will take place Aug. 10 to 13 at the Sands Expo Center at The Venetian hotel in Las Vegas.

“This will bring the past and future together,” said Jim Whitman, NACDS senior vice president.

The event is expected to bring together retailers representing more than 145,000 outlets with $650 billion in buying power. Among the 700-plus exhibitors expected are beauty powers including L’Oréal, Kao, Revlon’s Sinful Colors and Lumene. The lineup of high-profile retail executives includes Walgreens’ chief executive officer Greg Wasson and Family Dollar’s president and chief operating officer Mike Bloom.

Retailers and suppliers applaud NACDS’ efforts to make trade shows more efficient, especially since so many levels of decision-makers will be in one place. “This is a step in the right direction. Our industry can take one week and get so much done,” said Dunnan Edell, ceo of CCA Industries. Another industry executive quipped, “There will be so many retailers there I wonder who will be running the shop.”

According to Whitman, the response to the show has been phenomenal with almost 80 percent of exhibit space sold out. Floor shuttles and numerous lounges are on the blueprint, including computer terminals and laptop and phone charging facilities.

For the new format, NACDS’ has cherrypicked elements from across its meetings. For example, there will be the popular business session and Meet the Retailer that are hallmarks of the Annual Meeting. Marketplace was heralded for its Meet the Market, educational sessions and product showcases that have been tapped for the new show. There will also be the networking opportunities, receptions and a party called Vegas Extravaganza with major entertainment to be announced. Several manufacturers said they plan to use the proximity to Los Angeles to bring in famous company spokespeople.

For beauty companies, Total Store Expo offers the chance to get buyers, bosses and supply chain experts to booths to make decisions about brands and products. Getting marketing and sales together with logistics completes a total picture, said manufacturers.

The magnitude of the show is expected to attract a broader array of retailers, including military stores, dollar stores, grocery chains, discount stores and club stores.

Despite some concern the timing is late for the beauty business, Whitman said it could actually become a great tool for last-minute product decisions, but for even longer term planning. Some chains said they could alter their planogramming and decision-making around the timing for the show. The date was also selected because it doesn’t overlap with other important industry gatherings — including NACDS’ April Annual Meeting. Although some industry sources said they’d love to see the Annual rolled into Total Store Expo, NACDS plans for now to keep the top-to-top event separate. For now, most are happy to see a new show replace the existing Marketplace format. The next rendition of Total Store Expo will roll out in 2014 in Boston from Aug. 23 to 26.