High value, high impact conference, meetings, discussions and buying show were the highlights of an in-person return for Cantrex Nationwide Independent Retailer-Members and Vendors.

MONTREAL, QUEBEC, September 2022 – For the first time in over two years, Cantrex Nationwide brought back its in-person Cantrex PrimeTime event to Montreal from August 28th – 30th, 2022. For its independent retailer-members and vendor partners, the return was a highly anticipated one, and one of the most engaging and exciting shows to date.

This year’s three-day National Convention and Buying Show featured a general conference for both members and vendors, member round table discussions and category meetings, multiple networking opportunities and a one-day buying show at Montreal’s Palais de Congrès. It also marked Cantrex’s 60th Anniversary with a memorable gala celebration.

“There was an overall feeling of vitality and camaraderie throughout the entire event,” says Cantrex Nationwide President and Chief Operating Officer Jeannine Ghaleb. “We wanted this Cantrex PrimeTime, along with the celebration of our 60th anniversary, postponed from 2020, to be a very special one that our members and vendor partners would remember for years to come.”

The general conference opened by, first and foremost, recognizing Cantrex independent retailer-members’ outstanding performance over the past two years on several key performance indicators. “In almost every industry category, Cantrex members have outperformed their markets, delivering exceptional results,” says Jeannine Ghaleb. “Our suppliers have told us so, industry statistics have shown it, and our own data shows it in comparison to Dun & Bradstreet.”

This year’s event theme was Reshaping the Future of Retail and throughout the event, members and vendors heard and saw first-hand the many tools and opportunities available to maximize their growth potential. From having the right brands/vendors and expanding their business, to utilizing technology to improve efficiencies and leveraging the best of online and offline when reshaping their store experience – these were only a few of the strategies that participants explored as they look for ways to stay ahead of the curve in an ever-changing retail environment.

A new Cantrex website solution designed for the independent retailer kept the Marketing Services team busy at the show, as members enhance their website experience and ramp up their online presence to drive more and more shoppers to their stores.

“Nowadays, it is imperative to have a strong digital presence in order to remain relevant,” says Cantrex Nationwide Vice-President of Appliances and Marketing John Garey. “We are continuously expanding our digital marketing solutions to independent retailers, keeping their websites relevant, making it easy for shoppers to navigate, delivering the right content through a simple, clean, professional design and ultimately driving more sales online and into their physical stores.”

Industry and company updates, retail trends and a global economic outlook from an RBC strategist, provided valuable insights and approaches to remaining competitive during these volatile times.

To lighten things up, after dealing with our share of challenges over the past couple of years, this year’s conference speaker was Canadian stand-up and improvisational comedian, Roman Danylo. He delivered a heaping dose of humour to the audience through several interactive sketches relating to the independent retail channel.

Following the conference, retailer-members attended their respective category meetings, where select vendors along with the Cantrex team presented important updates and tactics that they could benefit from for the balance of the year and into 2023. Justin Sharma, Cantrex Nationwide member in Vernon, BC, inspired many of his peers with his talk on Transitioning Family Businesses to the Next Generations.

Member Round Table discussions presented some impactful presentations and gave retailers the opportunity to share some real-life experiences and best practices with their peers. These lively and engaging sessions addressed many of the more pressing challenges which independent retailers are confronted with – from dealing with labour shortages and planning for business continuity, to increasing profits by leveraging new revenue streams and increasing online presence to engage with shoppers through digital marketing.

“We had an outstanding time especially since it was our first show since COVID began,” says Retailer and Professional Brand Influencer, Corey McMullan, Cantrex Nationwide member, McMullan Appliance & Mattress in Smith Falls, Ontario. “We found exceptional value in the succession planning session and meeting some vendors in-person was critical for me.”

Business was brisk and upbeat at the one-day buying show, where connections were renewed and new ones created with business partners in the appliance, bedding, furniture, consumer electronics, photography, outdoor and business service categories. Vendors showed a tremendous amount of support for Cantrex’s network of independent retailers. As inventory shortages and supply chain pressures continue to ease, the popular Cash Back Now savings and Show Specials, available to attendees only, resembled pre-pandemic levels. Retailers were taking full advantage of the savings and new business opportunities by stocking up for the all-important fourth quarter.

Of course, no event is complete without some fun and Cantrex PrimeTime delivered big time with its 60th Anniversary gala. A cocktail reception was followed by a 4-course dinner at the Westin Montreal hotel. Celebrated Quebec musician, Gregory Charles, accompanied by a highly talented band and incredible vocalist Kim Richardson, capped the evening off when they transformed the room into a concert venue for a high energy and highly entertaining musical performance!

“It was really well organized and of great quality, both the show itself and the gala, which was exceptional thanks to Gregory Charles,” says Frédéric Gagnon, Cantrex member and President of Groupe Gagnon Frères in Chicoutimi, Québec. “Everyone is very happy to have participated!”

Other highlights from Cantrex PrimeTime Montreal include:

  • Several new product introductions and new program announcements from vendors for Cantrex members only.
  • The relaunch of the Cantrex-exclusive Allura mattress-in-a-box line.
  • More Consumer Electronics vendors on the show floor.

Cantrex PrimeTime welcomed nearly 530 member-retailers, vendor partners and industry experts from across Canada and the U.S. to Montreal, all who contributed to the resounding success of this year’s return to an in-person event.

The Cantrex Nationwide team sincerely thanks all of this year’s attendees for their trust and continued loyalty. We remain committed to serving independent retailers across Canada as we are already looking forward to the next Cantrex PrimeTime event in the fall of 2023.