CHESS returns to an in-person event


CHESS, the Chief Housewares Executive SuperSession, returns in 2021 with an in-person event October 5-6 in Rosemont, Illinois. As consumers and the housewares industry continue to recover from the pandemic, supply chain issues, post-pandemic growth strategies, consumer buying behavior and new retail models are all subjects that will be explored during CHESS 2021.

CHESS is the International Household Goods Associationstrategic and networking event designed for CEOs of all IHA member companies and their key decision makers. It offers sessions on critical issues affecting housewares, including supply chain and tariff relief actions, the new retail environment and the consumer journey, changes in the workplace due to virus, brand marketing, retail trends and more.

“One of the main benefits of CHESS has always been the ability for senior executives in the home and housewares to meet face to face, exchange ideas and strategies,” said Derek Miller, president of the company. ‘IHA. “After two years without live events, we are delighted to bring our members together in October.”

What’s on the agenda

Millerand Yvette Laugier, CEO of Peugeot Saveurs North America and new president of the IHA 2021-2022, will give a state of the industry report on October 5 to kick off the event. They will provide an update on IHA, The Inspired Home Show, and new member services that have extended IHA support throughout the year in the post-COVID marketplace.

Following the State of the Industry report, the annual Housewares Hot Seat panel, focusing on “The New Beginning” and examining post-pandemic growth strategies for vendors. Seasoned industry editor Peter Gianetti, now with IHA and editor of HomePage News, will host the panel by Glenn DeStefano, President of StoreBound; Kris Malkoski, Business Unit CEO, Home Solutions, Newell Brands; and Mike Otterman, President and CEO, Lodge Manufacturing. These seasoned housewares executives will share their progressive ideas and best practices for post-pandemic success.

IHA representatives in Washington will take stock of legislative and White House actions during the “The View From Washington: A Progress Report on Supply Chain & Tariff Relief Action” session. Craig Brightup, CEO of The Brightup Group, and Rafe Morrissey, President of Morrissey Strategic Partners, will explain what Congress and the Biden administration are doing to ease the burden on home and household items caused by soaring shipping costs and the associated supply chain disruption, and the maintenance of large-scale import tariffs.

First day sessions

Some of the discussions participants can expect at CHESS include:

  • “The New Journey of Retail and Consumer” – Consumers now only have one request: Spoil Me or Else. Michael Zakkour, ‘New Retail Model’ pioneer and retail futurist, will demonstrate how the implementation of 4Cs (consumer-centric, convenience, personalization and contribution) in the new era of retail and Unified Commerce will spoil consumers and grow a business in the next 3D retail metaverse. Zakkour is the Founder and Chief Strategist of 5 New Digital, a global digital commerce company and a new retail ecosystem.
  • “Tracking the return to normal: How high-frequency data provides insight into the mindset of consumers” – Marketing experts from global intelligence firm Morning Consult to unveil information from “Tracking the Return to Normal,” a weekly interactive series showcasing the changing comfort level of Americans when it comes to shopping, dining, travel, for socializing, entertainment and more. This session will help houseware managers learn the predictive power of high-frequency data to better understand consumers and their buying habits.
  • “The New Hybrid Workplace: How Your Business Can Avoid Hiccups and Earn Cheers” – The coronavirus has changed the nature of the workplace. David Michael, Partner at Gould + Ratner and President of the Firm’s Human Resources and Employment Practice, will review the latest work and employment issues arising from working from home and what may be the new “Hybrid workplace”, where employees divide their time between the office and working from home.

Day two sessions

Day two of CHESS begins with an overview of the financial health of the retail landscape. The past 18 months have been a roller coaster ride – from surging retail bankruptcies at the start of the pandemic to resuming sales in recent months. But one thing is clear, not only is retail alive, it is thriving in many segments. In the ‘Retail is Alive and Good’ session, Dennis Cantalupo, Riemer + Partner and CEO of Pulse Ratings, will review and analyze the changing retail landscape, focusing on the impact of the pandemic on the household items category.

Other day 2 sessions include:

  • “Widening your reach: leveraging digital technology to your advantage for international expansion” – The digital acceleration that has occurred over the past 18 months has significantly lowered the barriers to entry into international markets from the EU and EMEA to the SEA and China. John LeBaron, Chief Revenue Officer at Pattern, to examine the latest digital platforms and strategies used by companies to drive growth outside the United States
  • “Revisiting post-Covid retail” – Don Unser, chief retail strategist at The NPD Group, will explore the retail trends that have remained and what changed after the pandemic.
  • “Tell your brand’s stories to create customer karma for life” – Customers decide emotionally and justify rationally. In a world where many companies shout out their brand characteristics, famous “Brand Zen” Arjun Sen, CEO of ZenMango, has 30 years of stories of success and failure in the corporate world. In this session, Sen will demonstrate that every brand with a goal has a story, and he’ll share real-life secrets on how to discover and tell brand stories to truly connect with customers’ heartbeats.

Time will be provided after each session for questions and answers with the speakers. Networking breaks, lunches and a cocktail and dinner also provide participants with time to network and informally meet with speakers, industry service providers and their colleagues – the most valuable part of the program according to former participants.

Register for CHESS or get more information about sessions and speakers here. In the absence of a statewide mandate, the IHA is asking all unvaccinated CHESS participants to wear masks and follow social distancing guidelines. Vaccinated participants are not required to wear masks at this time. This policy is subject to change in the event that a statewide mandate is implemented.


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