Case study: Matalan Annual Leadership Conference

Matalan held its annual leadership conference in September, with 500 store managers gathering at Aintree Racecourse.



Aintree Racecourse, home of the Randox Health Grand National, hosted Matalan’s annual leadership conference on 13 September, a one-day event which drew over 500 managers from their head office, logistics and store locations to the venue. The agenda of the day was to provide leaders across Matalan with an update on the company strategy, and how the company is performing against set objectives and targets. It was a chance for colleagues to let their hair down and re-charge their batteries at the evening event (also held at Aintree Racecourse) in advance of the busy peak trading periods.


The event was held in the Equestrian Centre with breakout rooms throughout the racecourse stands showcasing the latest trends in ladies', men’s and kids' fashions, as well as this season’s homeware pieces. The day consisted of various presentations from the Matalan Board of Directors, along with product showcases and a fashion show. The event was followed by an evening celebration including live entertainment.  We also brought to life our product with bespoke ‘breakout sessions’ for all delegates to see and hear about the product. The day also focussed on the Golden Quarter which is a key three-month period on the run up to Christmas for all retailers. Finishing with a catwalk fashion show.

The main challenge was choosing a location store colleagues could get to as they are based all around the country. Aintree Racecourse is close to the motorway network and on a central line from Liverpool city centre, and this, along with the support from Matalan’s internal travel department, ensured everyone was at the venue with plenty of time to spare.

One of the other challenges was to try and maintain an intimate setting in such a large venue so colleagues felt they could collaborate with one another. Once again thanks to the operations team at Aintree Racecourse and the support of AV company Vision Events Manchester (VE-M) a structure was built within the equestrian centre which allowed the freedom of using the great exhibition space without losing the colleague closeness.

Catering was also a challenge – having to feed 500 plus guests in 45 minutes took some doing, but the team at Aintree Racecourse came up with a catering solution which meant that everyone was able to be fed and watered quickly and efficiently with plenty of time to spare.


Nikki Rice, Event Manager at Matalan, said: "The objective for this event was to engage and drive accountability of our company vision and strategic objectives to all leaders across the business. We also wanted to celebrate success, whilst keeping a clear focus on our peak trading period in the run up to Christmas and beyond. Aintree Racecourse was the perfect venue choice for Matalan due to its location, flexibility and catering offering."

John Baker, North West Regional Director for Jockey Club Racecourses, added: "This was a brilliant event for Aintree racecourse to host and a fantastic opportunity to showcase our conference facilities. Our thanks to the Matalan team for choosing the home of the Grand National for a showcase event and we very much hope to work with them again in the future."

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