The Hardware Association Ireland Conference and networking event took place at The Lyrath Estate Hotel in Kilkenny on March 30th, with a key focus on Rebuilding Our Future.
At the opening, Hardware Association Ireland President, Paul Candon welcomed all delegates to the conference and specifically thanked the sponsors for the event, Intact Software, Origo, Magico, Portwest, Reisser, Saint Gobain, Sika and Weare.IE for their support.
The President especially welcomed and introduced Neale Richmond, Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment with special responsibility for Employment Affairs and Retail Business and the Department of Social Protection. In congratulating Hardware Association Ireland on their Conference and work to date with his own Department on the Retail Forum and in area of Empty Homes in particular, Minister of State Richmond, reminded the conference audience that his own background was in the hardware and building materials sector with his grandfather owning a hardware store in Baltinglass and his father, the late Tom Richmond, working for Tegral as Sales Manager for many years.
The presentations featured a number of keynote speakers and seminars on key topics impacting businesses within our sector. These included the housing market with an emphasis on Empty Homes, the economic outlook internationally and for the Irish economy and our sector specifically, new digital marketing & eCommerce strategies with particular reference to hardware, DIY and building materials. There were keynote presentations before lunch from Economist Dermot O’Leary (Goodbody), Fergus McMahon from Cairn Homes and Architect and TV presenter Hugh Wallace, Douglas Wallace Architects, all of whom participated in a lively Q&A panel discussion after their respective presentations.
Immediately after lunch there were four breakout sessions featuring helpful Business Support topics including from Intact Software, covering their IntactIQ product and how it helps transform businesses, a snapshot tour of recent HR and Employment Law legislation for employers by Tommy Smyth, TSA Consultants. As well as a thought provoking presentation on how retailers can protect their business more effectively by Retail Loss Prevention expert Michael Neary, and a very informative look at the Empty Homes in Scotland initiative from Andy Moseley.
The afternoon session featured National Director of Retrofit with Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) Dr Ciaran Byrne, on the range of incentives available to home owners and how hardware and builders merchants can promote same to the benefit of their business and Social Media expert Greg Fry on the nine best ways of utilising social media specifically with hardware, DIY and home improvement top of mind.
In his closing remarks Hardware Association Ireland, CEO, Martin Markey thanked all delegates for coming and sponsors for their continued support of HAI activities. He especially acknowledged and thanked Eventhaus for their excellent support in hosting the event.