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UNIC Retail Group virtual meeting on 18 November 2020

UNIC recently held its second Retail Group meeting of the year on 18 November. Co-organised with our partner Coca-Cola, 50 retail experts from our companies and association members participated in a virtual session exploring key trends in cinema retail and the impact of COVID-19 on consumer behaviour and business practices. The meeting also included a dedicated session on sustainability, with an update from the UNIC Circular Economy Retail Group.

The meeting was opened by Oliver Delaney (Coca-Cola) and Laura Houlgatte (UNIC), who welcomed participants and highlighted the critical importance of staying connected as an industry during this crisis. The main objective of this virtual meeting was to discuss what could drive business in the short term, as well as focus on future opportunities and challenges that the industry would be facing in the medium to long term. To open the discussion, Marta Lercari (Coca-Cola) gave a presentation on 2021 consumer trends, deep diving into how consumer behaviour and preferences have significantly evolved in recent months and their lasting impact on existing retail trends. This was followed by two presentations from Oliver Delaney, the first on 2021 retail trends and the second on digital opportunities. These presentations provided insights into various current and future developments across the world of retail and how cinema operators have adapted their offer during the crisis, such as  cinemas launching their own F&B home delivery service, in partnership with local companies. Members of the Retail group then shared experiences and best practices.

The second part of the meeting was dedicated to the Circular Economy Retail Group, an initiative launched in November 2019 to create a sustainability roadmap for cinema exhibition in Europe. Prill Brewin (The Blue Stocking Partnership) gave an update on sustainable packaging, with a particular focus on the upcoming EU-wide ban on single-use plastic from 3 July 2021. We learned more about confirmed and potential sustainable alternatives for cinemas, as several new solutions and suppliers are still under review. This was followed by a presentation from Birgit Heidsiek (Grünes Kino) on an initiative from the German Federal Film Board (FFA) related to the development of green cinemas, resulting in the publication of the Green Cinema Handbook (available here, in German). The book provides a detailed overview of key environmental requirements that cinema companies will be confronted to in the near future, potential sustainable solutions for the sector as well as best practices from cinema operators across Europe and globally. Sarah Girling (The Blue Stocking Partnership) then gave a presentation on Holy Grail 2.0, an initiative from the European Brands Association (AIM), and how it could be of relevance to the cinema industry. This project has seen 85 companies from the packaging value chain joining forces with the goal to assess whether a pioneering digital technology can enable better sorting and higher-quality recycling rates for packaging in the EU, with the objective to drive a truly circular economy. Sarah also gave an update on the Brief Cases Project and the winning projects. As a reminder, this initiative tasked 120 design students with designing innovative systems for packaging disposability and visual communications messaging with the aim of increasing the amount of disposable packaging being recycled by making the experience easier for guests and cinemas alike. More information about the project can be found here, including the list of winners. The concluding presentation from Prill Brewin explored how the wider industry was working to create and communicate a sustainable strategy, a process particularly shaped by the UN Sustainable Development Goals. As part of this presentation, Laura Houlgatte gave an update on upcoming EU policies related to sustainability and how future recovery plans might include environmental considerations.

This first virtual meeting of our retail meeting was hugely successful and we are happy to announce that a second event is scheduled to take place in early 2021. Stay tuned!

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