ARL conference: Abuzz and upbeat

The mood of the ARL sports and leisure division’s annual buying conference in early March was upbeat, with plenty of buzz around suppliers stands on the Monday and Tuesday.

Held in Melbourne's Etihad Stadium, as last year although its name has changed, the four day event for Sportspower and Sportscene members included state of the nation addresses from ARL, catwalk displays from Adidas and Puma, catalogue buying for the six months from July to Christmas, information on the growing private label programmes and enough networking to keep even the most isolated store owner happy.

Newly appointed general manager Derek Hawkins reported he was greatly enjoying his first conference and appreciated the warm welcome he had received on joining ARL in January.

His predecessor Campbell McMahon has taken on a special projects role but was still actively involved with the team in putting this conference together.

Winners in black and white: Theme of the Sunday night dinner, held at Pier 9 and sponsored by Adidas, was black and white.

A bumper attendance interpreted the theme in a wide range of ways from dressing up as priests and wearing wigs, to selecting a white shirt to wear with the hardworking black pants.

Awards presented included:
• Store of the year for 2009 — Sportspower Kalgoorlie, Chris and Julie Gilmore;

• Supplier of the year — Footwear: Asics for the third time; Apparel: Nike; and hardware/equipment: York Fitness

Reps of the year — VIC: Monique Maes of Adidas; NSW: Kellie Jones of Asics ; SA: Joel Hanlon of New Balance; TAS: Chris Hardinge of Adidas; WA: Gary Metcalf of Asics; QLD: Andrew Bice of Gray Nicolls.
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