SPA 79th Conference Success - November 2012

19th November 2013

The 79th Conference held at Breadsall Priory Hotel near Derby was attended by 91 delegates representing 40 sheet plants and 21 suppliers.


Following an upbeat welcome from Chairman Tim Gray the first session was an Employment Law Update from Anita Coaster of Coaster Legal - a regular and popular attendee at conference. This was followed by Mr Tom Hooper of KPMG who gave an in-depth overview of the UK economy and the outlook for the UK and Europe.  Mr Raj Bhardwaj of Consult it All then reviewed market news and looked at the state of the UK corrugated market. 

This presentation was followed by a pitch from Parmarco Global explaining to delegates their services for checking and refurbishing anilox rollers. Delegates then enjoyed the hospitality of the bar sponsored by Parmarco Global followed by dinner.  

On the second day of the conference, Mr Andrew Ely of TUV told members that from October 2012 there are new charges levied by the HSE for its intervention in any safety issue requiring written notification of its occurrence, amounting to £124 per hour. 

The SPA has spent the last 3 months totally redesigning their website, with a view to making it the portal of choice for all members to communicate with fellow members and suppliers, keep up to date with Industry News and access all SPA documentation and resources including a direct link to their SPA dashboard. Mr David Harrison of Morello Digital spoke of these major improvements made to the SPA website and demonstrated it's functionality. All members are urged to register on-line at and create their profile.

To break the format of Conference suppliers were invited to give a 60 second Micro Presentation giving an overview of their products and services. Pitted against the stopwatch the supplier completing his presentation in a time nearest to 60 secs received a bottle of Champagne.

Customer Resource Management systems are fast becoming the next must-have in the business world, and Mr Frank Dineen of Dikoro Ltd explained how, In it's simplest form a CRM system can be likened to a Filofax with a list of contacts and their telephone numbers!  However, as he explained, a Filofax is easily mislaid, and in any case, it lacks any ability to sort or to collate information.  He went on to outline the various CRM software systems in common use, some of them Cloud based, but he emphasised the importance of having the ability to manage opportunities, to deal effectively with any complaints, and on occasion, simply to decide which customers were just not worth persevering with. This presentation was a 'taster' for an in-depth look at CRM systems at future SPA Conferences.

Some slight amendments have been made, or are about to be made, to the SPA dashboard,  as explained by Mr Graham Dickinson of Abaca Systems, who are providing the facility free of charge to all SPA members.  

Following an update on the new FSC package on offer (at a cost of £1900), given by Mr John  Freeman of Chartwell PM, there were two break-out sessions , one for converters and one for supplier members. In the converter meeting sheet plants were asked if the direction that the SPA is going is on the right track and asked for suggestions for future initiatives and conference content. Whilst suppliers were asked what support can they give collectively or individually to support the SPA. A 'wash up' was presented by each group when delegates reformed in the main Conference.  

Finally, Mr Andrew Barnetson, Director of Packaging Affairs at the CPI, presented his update on the work of the Corrugated Promotional Committee, and announced the appointment of PR company Allott & Associates.

Tim Gray closed Conference and confirmed he is pleased with the progress made by the SPA since his appointment. He is enthusiastic about plans for the next SPA conference, ‘This next Conference will be held on 25th & 26th February and will be a whopper and will include a major Trade Show, with proper exhibition stands rather than our usual table-top facility for suppliers.  The Trade Show will be an Agenda item and delegates will spend at least an hour and a half walking the stands and talking to suppliers - there will be deals to be done!’