It pains me to be nice, but this year’s IGD’s convention was the best I can remember.

It wasn’t just the star-studded retailer line-up, though to have the CEOs of Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Marks & Spencer, together with two rising stars, in Judith McKenna (Asda) and Richard Hodgson (Morrisons), was impressive enough.

It was also the choice of topic: where star-gazing in the past has too easily morphed into navel gazing, or even worse, grandstanding, this year’s theme of ‘tough questions’ was a trickier bullet to dodge, and speakers responded with a greater degree of honesty, including a harrowing presentation from Tesco CEO Philip Clarke, Justin King’s admission that the Sainsbury’s Wheel of Health needed to change, and Unilever’s European president, Jan Zijderveld, criticising supermarkets for their “boring and unnavigable” store layouts.

” Why did everyone discount the discounters at the IGD Convention?”

Adam Leyland, Editor

It was also refreshing that, instead of dull, complacent presentations about click and collect, we heard from online players of the calibre, scale and ambition of Google and Amazon. Both provided healthy warning shots to the industry as to its current limited thinking, albeit that both Clarke’s, McKenna’s and Bolland’s presentations were clearly alive to the challenges the industry faces.

With Hodgson meanwhile criticising suppliers for their lack of innovation, a presentation from Heinz president Matt Hill, showing how it had successfully eschewed promotions through brilliant innovation and strong and rigorously planned advertising and social media campaigns, was also timely.

If I have a concern it was with the commonly held belief that price, and price comparison websites - are now merely, in King’s phrase, a “hygiene factor”. With price comparison websites, it is certainly now harder for price to be a competitive advantage. But if trust is so important (it was an unofficial theme running through the conference), why are supermarkets not addressing what Joanne Denny Finch called “the confusing blizzard of promotions”? And what about the discounters? Did the speakers not read last week’s issue of The Grocer?