IAA Learning & Development Festival 2023

3rd July 2023 | 10am - 8pm

What happened?

The inaugural Independent Achievers Academy (IAA) Learning & Development Festival took place on Monday 3 July 2023 and was attended by a cross-section of leading retailers, eager to improve their businesses. The event was designed to inspire and equip independent retailers with fresh ideas, inspiration and new business connections in just one day. It included:

  • Masterclasses from leading suppliers with a focus on how to capitalise on key industry trends and tackle the latest challenges in our sector.
  • Focus Groups that allowed attendees to discuss areas of their business in-depth with fellow retailers and industry experts.
  • Hands-on Trade Exhibition where attendees connected with leading suppliers to find new products and services for their store.
  • Networking opportunities that helped attendees to build important business relationships with the best retailers from across the UK and Ireland.

In the evening the IAA 2023 stars of independent convenience retail – including the coveted Overall Best Shop – were announced.

The IAA 2023 Learning and Development Festival was a day filled with everything retailers need to shape, strengthen and supercharge their businesses!

If you weren’t able to make the event, why not take a look at our live blog to find out what you can learn from the sessions that took place across the day!

Headline Partners


Dr Paul Sewell

Keynote Speaker

Dr Paul Sewell
Sewell Group

Aman Uppal


Aman Uppal
One Stop Mount Nod

Christine Hope


Christine Hope
Hopes of Longtown

Andrew Newton


Andrew Newton
Nisa Local Colleygate


10:00 – 10:45 Registration, coffee and exhibition

Your chance to roam our interactive trade exhibition where you can see the latest products and innovations from leading suppliers, while networking with fellow retailers over coffee.

10:45 – 12:15 Opening session – giving you new ideas to shape your business

The brand-new IAA Learning & Development Festival will kick off with an inspirational session to give you ideas from stores around the world, new ways to differentiate and promote your store online, and the business strategy that will help propel your business.

Achieving Your Business Potential
Dr Paul Sewell OBE will explore the importance of passion, innovation and strategy in achieving success. Hear how he went from failing school to becoming chair of Sewell Group with an OBE, learn how he overcame difficult times in the pursuit of excellence, and discover the building blocks you need be focusing on to build your strategy for success.

Reach More Customers Using Social Media
Social media is an inescapable part of our lives and impacts how shoppers interact with retail. Our expert panel led by Newtrade Media’s Head of Marketing, Kate Daw, will see store owners share how they successfully use social media to increase footfall and sales, and the steps you need to take to increase your reach with TikTok, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. We’re delighted to be joined by:

  • Andrew Newton, Nisa Local Colley Gate, Halesowen
  • Christine Hope, Hopes of Longtown, Herefordshire
  • Aman Uppal, One Stop Mount Nod, Coventry

12:15 – 13:30 Networking and exhibition over a light buffet

Your chance to continue networking, to make new contacts at our interactive trade exhibition where you can see the latest products and innovations from leading suppliers, while enjoying lunch.

13:30 – 15:00 Masterclasses – helping you find ways to supercharge your business

The IAA Learning & Development Festival is centred around education and business growth, so we’ve designed a number of Masterclasses to help you to find ways to seize opportunities, tackle strategic challenges and develop your business.

Led by our headline partners, they will consist of a short presentation, followed by an interactive Q&A section where you can share experiences, challenges and questions to identify actionable solutions. Places are restricted and allocated on a first-come, first-served basis to ensure sessions are valuable and actionable.

Masterclass set one – delegates must choose in advance one of the following three masterclasses to attend

  1. Successfully Engaging Your Community – FULL
    in association with Coca-Cola Europacific Partners
    Being actively involved in your community creates lasting relationships, drives loyalty and can increase sales. Find out the actionable steps needed to strengthen your local network, methods to connect with and involve charities and how to maximise the many benefits of community engagement.
  2. Future-Proofing Nicotine Alternatives
    in association with JTI UK
    There has been rapid growth in the number of different alternative nicotine products available over the past couple of years. Get an in-depth understanding of the opportunities and risks in this category, top tips on spotting illegal vapes and the best ways to protect this fast-evolving category.
  3. Increasing Staff Retention
    in association with Mondelez International
    Building and maintaining a great team is key to success. Learn how to create a successful team and help to build their careers by using strategies such as goal setting, empowerment and role definition, and find out the key strategies to encourage your staff to stay in your business for the long run.

Masterclass set two – delegates must choose in advance one of the following three masterclasses to attend

  1. Improving Your Work-Life Balance
    in association with Suntory Beverage & Food GB&I
    Many retailers don’t take enough time off to rest and recharge, which could negatively impact their mental health. Understand the key barriers to being away from the business and how to overcome them, as well as how you can equip and empower your team so you can take the time off you deserve.
  2. Maximising Sales in Alternative Nicotine
    in association with BAT UK
    Nicotine alternative products have increased in popularity but can be challenging to understand. Get to know the different category drivers and adult nicotine consumer behaviours to successfully range and display, and confidently match the relevant product to your customers’ needs to drive sales.
  3. The Future of Confectionery Merchandising
    in association with Mars Wrigley
    New technology, the cost-of-living crisis and HFSS legislation are really impacting how shoppers interact with impulse categories and footfall drivers. Walk through the perfect store to discover how to optimise your range, plus the best locations and merchandising techniques to drive additional sales.

15:00 – 15:30 Break for tea/coffee, networking and exhibtion

Your final chance to talk to leading suppliers at our interactive trade exhibition where you can see the latest products and innovations, while networking over a drink and a snack.

15:30 – 16:10 Focus groups – addressing key challenges to strengthen your business

The IAA Learning & Development Festival has knowledge sharing and networking at its heart, so we’ve developed a number of Focus Groups to help you connect with fellow retailers and leading suppliers while addressing some of the key challenges that independent retailers are facing.

Each Focus Group will start with a case study from the session leader, before it’s opened out for all to share experiences and challenges to identify actionable solutions. Numbers are restricted to ensure it’s and engaging and useful session, and places are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.

Delegates must choose in advance from one of the following Focus Groups to attend

  1. Minimising your store’s environmental impact
    In association with BAT UK
    Explore the easiest and most effective ways to reduce costs and run a more sustainable business
  2. Effective ranging to grow sales & maximise profit – FULL
    In association with Coca-Cola Europacific Partners
    Discuss how to get the right range for your customers by using EPOS data and the latest innovation
  3. Turning shopper needs into sales opportunities
    In association with Ferrero
    Understand the importance of gifting occasions and the most effective ways to maximise sales
  4. Protecting yourself from illicit tobacco & vaping
    In association with JTI
    How to spot illegal products and the tools to help prevent them negatively impacting your store
  5. Driving sales through on demand delivery
    In association with Mars Wrigley
    Explore the different platforms to use, how to build your range and the best ways to increase spend
  6. Creating impactful displays to help increase sales
    In association with Mondelez International
    Explore the most effective ways to create displays that inspire shoppers and help to increase sales
  7. Increasing margins to maximise profit
    In association with Newtrade Media
    Find out the simplest tips and latest trends to grow margins and create a plan to increase your own
  8. Boosting sales during seasonal events
    In association with Pernod
    Discuss the best ways to create excitement and generate additional sales from seasonal events
  9. Improving yours and your teams’ mental health
    In association with SBF GB&I
    Formulate a step-by-step plan to reduce stress and improve wellbeing for you and your team

16:10 – 17:00 Closing session – inspiring you to take action and supercharge your business!

Participate in an interactive discussion about the ideas generated in the masterclasses so you can take away the top tips from all six that took place. Led by a panel of industry leaders to help you gain a deeper understanding of the best ways to seize opportunities and overcome challenges.

Look at life through a different lens as our closing speaker walks you through their journey to success leaving you inspired to generate new ideas, plans and actions for the coming year.

17:00 – 18:00 Drinks reception

Toast new ideas, connections and the start of something special: finding out who has been recognised as one of the leading stores across the country.

18:00 – 20:00 IAA Ceremony – discover which stores are leading the way and celebrate with them

Join us to as the IAA Category Stars are announced, plus the IAA Rising Star and Overall Best Shop for 2022-23, while networking and finding out what you can replicate in your store over some tasty street food.

Marketing to Customers, Customer Service, Effective Ranging, Availability, Shop Layout and Merchandising & Display are announced.

Savoury street food is available during a break between the proceedings.

Responsible Retailing, Staff Development, Service to the Community, Environmental Sustainability, Innovation, Rising Star and the IAA 2022-23 Overall Best Shop are announced.

Sweet street food is available while the celebrations continue!

20:00 – 23:00 Celebration and further networking

Join the celebrations, enjoy the music and continue networking with your peers.

For those staying over at our on-site hotel, the hotel bar remains open after 23:00 for the networking to continue.

Masterclass Leaders

Amy Burgess

Amy Burgess

Coca-Cola Europacific Partners

Andrew Pheasant

Andrew Pheasant

Suntory Beverage & Food GB&I

Hashim Tahir

Hashim Tahir


James Renowden

James Renowden


Mike Ball

Mike Ball


Susan Nash

Susan Nash


Supporting partners

Networking partners

Find out more about the brands that support and fund the IAA, and access ideas and advice for your store on their trade websites and Twitter profiles here.


Centrally located in Birmingham, The Eastside Rooms is a unique environment that combines the innovation of the future with Birmingham’s iconic industrial heritage. With environmental sustainability as a core value of both Eastside Rooms and the IAA, this is the ideal venue to host the inaugural IAA Learning & Development Festival. 


Eastside Rooms, Woodcock St, Birmingham, B7 4BL

The IAA Learning & Development Festival is something different. It’s a pretty perfect day – I’ll definitely be there.

—Aman Uppal, One Stop Mount Nod, Coventry

You get to share ideas, learn from other super successful retailers & pass on your ideas – it’s just the support we need.

—Trudy Davies, Woosnam & Davies News, Llanidloes