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IHA’S CHESS To Hold In-Person Event in October

CHESS, the Chief Housewares Executive SuperSession, returns in 2021 with an in-person event October 5-6, 2021 in Rosemont, Ill. As consumers and the housewares industry continue to recover from the Coronavirus pandemic, supply chain issues, post-pandemic growth strategies, changing consumer purchase behavior and new retail models are some of the topics facing suppliers that will be explored during CHESS 2021.

CHESS is the International Housewares Association’s strategic and networking event for industry leaders. It is designed for chief officers of all IHA member companies and their top decision-makers and features sessions on critical issues affecting housewares, including supply chain and tariff relief actions, the new retail environment and the consumer journey, workplace changes because of the coronavirus, brand marketing, retail trends and more.

“One of the key benefits of CHESS has always been the ability for senior-level home + housewares executives to meet face-to-face, exchanging ideas and strategies,” says Derek Miller, IHA president. “After two years without live events, we are excited to bring our members back together this October.”

Opening the program on October 5 will be a State-of-the-Industry report from Millerand Yvette Laugier, managing director, Peugeot Saveurs North America and incoming IHA Chair 2021-22. They will provide an update on IHA, The Inspired Home Show and new member services that have expanded IHA’s year-round support in post-COVID marketplace.

Following the State-of-the-Industry report is the annual Housewares Hot Seat panel, focusing on “The New Beginning” and examining post-pandemic growth strategies for suppliers. Veteran industry editor Peter Gianetti, now with IHA and editor-in-chief of HomePage News, will moderate the panel of Glenn DeStefano, president, StoreBound; Kris Malkoski, business unit CEO, Home Solutions, Newell Brands; and Mike Otterman, president & CEO, Lodge Manufacturing. These veteran housewares executives will share their progressive ideas and best practices for success after the pandemic.

IHA’s Washington representatives will provide an update on legislative and White House actions during the session “The View From Washington: A Progress Report on Supply Chain & Tariff Relief Action.” Craig Brightup, CEO, The Brightup Group, and Rafe Morrissey, president, Morrissey Strategic Partners, will explain what Congress and the Biden Administration are doing to relieve the burden on the home and housewares business caused by skyrocketing shipping costs and related supply chain disruption, and the continuation of widescale import tariffs.

Other first-day sessions include:

  • “The New Retail and Consumer Journey” — Consumers have only one demand now: Spoil Me or Else. “New Retail Model” pioneer and retail futurist Michael Zakkour will demonstrate how delivering the 4Cs (consumer centricity, convenience, customization and contribution) in the New Retail and Unified Commerce Era will spoil consumers and grow a business in the coming 3D Retail Metaverse. Zakkour is founder and chief strategist of 5 New Digital, a global digital commerce and new retail ecosystem company.
  • “Tracking the Return to Normal: How High-Frequency Data Offers Insight Into Consumers’ State of Mind” — Marketing experts from global intelligence company Morning Consult will reveal insights from “Tracking the Return to Normal,” a weekly interactive series featuring Americans’ changing comfort levels when it comes to shopping, dining, travel, socializing, entertainment and more. This session will help housewares executives learn the predictive power of high-frequency data in better understanding consumers and their purchasing habits.
  • “The New Hybrid Workplace: How Your Company Can Avoid Hiccups and Earn Hurrahs” — The coronavirus changed the nature of the workplace. David Michael, a partner at Gould + Ratner and chair of the firm’s human resources and employment practice, will review the latest labor and employment issues arising from working at home and what may be the new “hybrid workplace,” where employees split time between the office and working at home.

Day 2: Retail Financial Health, Digital Strategies, Post- Covid Retailing, Brand Marketing

Day 2 of CHESS kicks off with a look at the financial health of the retail landscape. The past 18 months have been a roller coaster—from the spike in retail bankruptcies at the onset of the pandemic to the recovery in sales for the last few months. But one thing is clear, not only is retail alive but it is thriving in many segments.  In the session “Retail is Alive and Well,” Dennis Cantalupo, partner, Riemer+ and CEO, Pulse Ratings, will review and analyze the evolving retail landscape, focusing on how the pandemic has specifically impacted the housewares category.

Other Day 2 sessions include:

  • “Expanding Your Reach: Leveraging Digital to Your Advantage for International Expansion” — The digital acceleration that has occurred over the past 18 months has significantly lowered the barriers to entry for international markets from the EU and EMEA to SEA and China. John LeBaron, chief revenue officer at Pattern, will examine the newest digital platforms and strategies companies are using to enable growth outside the U.S.
  • “Revisiting Post-Covid Retailing” — Don Unser, chief retail strategist at The NPD Group, will explore what retail trends have remained and what has changed post-pandemic.
  • “Telling Your Brand Stories to Create Customer Karma for Life” — Customers decide emotionally and justify rationally. In a world where many businesses scream their brand features, acclaimed “Brand Zen” Arjun Sen, CEO, ZenMango, has 30 years’ worth of success stories and recovering failures in the corporate world. In this session, Sen will demonstrate that every brand with a purpose has a story, and he will share real-life secrets on how to discover and tell brands stories to truly connect to customers’ heartbeats.

Time will be provided after each session for Q&A with the speakers. Networking breaks, luncheons and a cocktail reception and dinner also provide time for attendees to network and meet informally with speakers, industry service providers and their colleagues—the most valuable part of the program according to past participants.

To register for CHESS or for information on sessions and speakers, visit the CHESS website at In the absence of a statewide mandate, IHA asks that all unvaccinated CHESS attendees wear masks and follow social distancing guidelines. Vaccinated attendees are not required to wear masks at this time. This policy is subject to change in the event that a statewide mandate is implemented; please check back for additional information closer to the event.

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