This year, Leading Edge, IGD's development and networking forum for young people in the food and grocery industry, is launching a programme of free after-work events for targeted audiences.
The first of the series, Insight into Forecourt and Convenience Retailing, takes place at various locations around the United Kingdom from May 3-16, and covers the development of convenience and forecourt retailing and the impact on the broader grocery retailing environment.
Leading Edge's annual agenda is set by members through the members' group and customer feedback.
The new series comes in the wake of feedback that they wanted more tightly targeted topics.
The Insight into Forecourt and Convenience Retailing seminars will cover the key consumer trends impacting on the sector, the growing importance of foodservice in the convenience offer and opportunities for development in these channels. The seminars comprise a mix of presentations and a team-based quiz, which has in the past proved to be an effective way to assist learning and networking.
As well as assessing how the convenience sector is performing, the session will focus on the evolving structure of convenience, how store offers are developing, what the key growth categories are and where industry consolidation will lead. The session will also look at forecourt retailing. With almost 10,000 outlets and sales approaching £4bn, the forecourt remains a key route to market in the dynamic UK convenience sector, and presents a host of opportunities for operators and suppliers.
The next in the series, Graduate and Business Placement, is a new event for graduates (of less than two years) and business placements working in the food and grocery industry who want to improve their knowledge and understanding of the industry and build connections. Also free, it takes place after work in London on 8 June.
The aim of the Graduate and Business Placement event is to enable new starters to gain an insight into the UK food and grocery industry, says Teresa Gilbert, head of industry initiatives at IGD.
"It will help them to understand the key issues facing the industry, take a look at what the future holds for the industry, and meet and network with fellow graduates and business placement students from other companies, in order to build what we hope will be long-term connections."
James Walton, IGD's senior economic analyst, will provide a review of each sector across the supply chain and the presentation will be followed by a networking session with wine and canapés.
So far, IGD says that it has had a "fantastic response" from HR and line managers within member companies, as well as from delegates. Nearly 200 people have already registered.
More events will be added to the new programme as members continue to give feedback on what they want.
"The feedback from our members tells us that Leading Edge has made a real difference to them and to their business and we are delighted that we are now being asked to tailor our events to their very specific needs," says Gilbert.