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GS1 UK industry conference: Supporting vital transformation in retail and healthcare

Date: May 23, 2017

Category: Industry news

We recently held the GS1 UK industry conference in London Park Lane, part of the wider GS1 General Assembly, attended by over 400 delegates from across the world

Our theme was how GS1 standards are vital in supporting transformation across healthcare and retail. We were joined by world-class speakers from both the retail space and healthcare. And we were honoured to have Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal as our special guest.

Lord Hunt, Keith Jones and Kevins Downs

GS1 UK’s President, Lord Phillip Hunt, got the day underway with the healthcare plenary. He spoke about the impact GS1 standards are having across the NHS since they were mandated in 2014. He was joined by Keith Jones, Clinical Director of Surgery and Kevin Downs, Director of Finance and Performance at Derby Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. Kevin highlighted the £1m savings they’ve made through the efficiencies GS1 standards are bringing to the trust.

Sue Hill, Chief Scientific Officer at the NHS spoke about transforming care for the future and how we should be getting all players in the healthcare sector working together. “The Department of Health and the NHS recognises the importance of tracking people, products and locations to improve patient experience and patients get safer care.”

Ulrike Kreysa, Vice President of Healthcare at GS1, gave a talk on a humanitarian programme based on GS1 standards, and the supply of vaccinations and emergency medication to children in rural parts of the world. We then had the honour of Her Royal Highness, Princess Anne who spoke about her personal experience of a similar programme for Save the Children in the 1980s.

I know that we are celebrating 40 years of GS1 in the UK, but my goodness, I wish you had been there in the 80s because it would have made life so much easier, especially for the vaccines that were more temperature sensitive than others."

Her Royal Highness, Princess Anne


The Princess Royal then presented an award to CEO, Gary Lynch and Chairman, James Spittle celebrating 40 years of GS1 UK.

Gary Lynch

In the afternoon, the focus was on retail with Gary Lynch, CEO of GS1 UK, beginning the session by revealing insights from our Defending cross-border trade report, which outlines the views of British SME businesses on the potential impact of protectionism and Brexit.

Jo Malone

Someone who is clearly passionate about SMEs is Jo Malone, MBE, Entrepreneur, Founder and Creative Director of Jo Loves. She kicked off her speech saying, “We really need to protect SMEs – they are the brands of the future”. She told her inspiring and captivating story of how she started with a simple idea that she turned into a multi-million-pound global business, which she then sold to Estee Lauder in 1999.

On the flipside, Jo was followed by CEO and Chairman, Dame Fiona Kendrick, of Nestlé UK & Ireland. Fiona spoke about the importance of brand innovation and how Nestlé are constantly innovating their products to satisfy the tastes of the consumers. She also gave insight into how Nestlé are using GS1 standards to track the origins and sourcing Nestlé’s coffee beans.

Tony von Bibra

We were then joined by Terry Von Bibra, General Manager at Alibaba Europe. He presented an insightful session about the challenging demands of the modern Chinese consumers. When asked about GS1 standards and how Alibaba is utilising them on their platform Terry answered, “Standards are very important to how we work, how we work with our partners - and we need standardisation for our consumers!”

Dino Rocos

Dino Rocos, Operations Director at John Lewis talked about the impact customer behaviour has had on John Lewis. The huge investments in their distribution centres, online platforms and GS1 standards enable them to run operations 24 hours a day, enabling John Lewis to deliver exactly what customers want.

“GS1 standards are everywhere. The ability to track products in and out of operations throughout the 24 hours is business critical. Without those standards, we would not be able to operate.”

Dave Lewis

Closing the retail session and the conference was Tesco’s CEO, Dave Lewis. He spoke about how Tesco have changed the focus of the business and how they always put the customers first and how a key part of the brand is about, “serving shoppers a little better every day”. He also reiterated how important two GS1 UK initiatives are to Tesco, Digital DNA and GS1 DataBar, and he stressed how the whole of the grocery sector must work together to improve product data and efficiencies.

Relive the conference – watch the videos and download the presentations


Defending cross-border trade

Digital DNA

Helping small business sell online