Hot topics and networking at 2018 BETA Conference

Challenges posed by Brexit, the changing face of retail, GDPR and the digital age in the workplace were highlights of this year's British Equestrian Trade Association Conference.


The annual event, which took place at the De Vere Staverton Estate Hotel, near Daventry, Northamptonshire, on Monday 29 October, saw around 80 delegates gather to hear a diverse collection of presentations under the theme Time to Grow and network with industry colleagues.


Clara Kellock, of Citrus-Lime, looked at the way in which retail and its customers were changing, with internet connectivity everywhere, retailers listing their stock online, once-loyal customers who can now shop anywhere on the internet and the majority who always spend time doing careful research before parting with their cash. “How easy are you to buy from?” Clara challenged the audience as she provided top tips on how to evolve and respond for the future growth of their businesses.


Amanda Chadwick, of Croner, gave a highly entertaining and thought-provoking presentation on managing staff in the digital age. “You can have anything you want in your company handbook,” she told businesses, before reminding them about the importance of having policies in the workplace for aspects such as mobile phone use, social media and work computers. She then proceeded to highlight the consequences – with anecdotes of real-life scenarios – of just what can happen when a company fails to do this.


Zoe Thomson, of Risk Evolves, looked at just what was happing with GDPR since it came into force on 25 May this year. Her talk revealed that since this date there had been 51 breaches/data incidents, including blue-chip companies and organisations such as supermarket giants Tesco and Morrisons. She reminded companies of the measures they should have set in place, explained just why they were called for and provided advice on moving forward to embrace GDPR and risk.

Public affairs consultant John Arnold, chief executive of Northern & Universal and chairman of online sentiment analysis company Tweetminster, took delegates on a tour of the political landscape in the shadow of Brexit and the possibilities of a deal, no deal or a new referendum. He also took out his crystal ball to look into the future with a change in the Conservative party leadership, another general election and a Scottish independence referendum.


David Holmes, of British Eventing, provided a backroom view of the 2018 World Equestrian Games, in Tryon, sharing the medal-winning success and the string of challenges – including Hurricane Flo – that had to be overcome. The hurricane, incidentally, didn't appear to cause too many problems. David’s presentation highlighted that Team GBR finished third in the medal table and dressage, para-dressage and eventing had all qualified for Tokyo 2020.


Tim Knight, head of investment consultancy at St James's Place Wealth Management, provided an update on the economy. “We're at a crossroads and I'm cautiously optimistic,” he said. Brexit, of course, featured heavily in Tim's presentation, where he highlighted the possible outcomes and looked at the implications of a “no deal”. Despite saying that the chance of no deal had increased to broadly 50/50, he added that there was an assumption that a last-minute deal would be done.


“We have received some really positive feedback from delegates on both the conference speakers and our venue,” said BETA executive director Claire Williams. “The event is a great opportunity for different sectors of the industry to get to together and hear some highly informative presentations on a range of relevant topics. I'm sure we all went home knowing far more than we did when we arrived! “

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