BERLIN, 18th October 2018 – The Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) kicked off its annual FLP Congress in Berlin today. The event, the annual gathering of young leaders from within the FMCG industry, saw delegates travel from all over the world to learn what it means to be a great leader of a great company, with emphasis on building leaders for companies with purpose. In total, 130 joined the activities that ranged from CEO presentations, to crisis management workshops to discussions on what it means to be purpose-driven, insights into digital disruption and an exclusive Hackathon.

The FLP exists to create a network of young leaders that together can build a sustainable future for the consumer goods industry. It was opened by FLP Committee Chair John Bradshaw, Head of Marketing at Pick n Pay. John noted how this was the most important network in the consumer goods industry, celebrating the fact the FLP Congress is now in its 63rd year. He also emphasised how delegates could now continue the conversation in the all-new FLP Network, which will provide FLP Congress alumni with exclusive content from CEOs and thought-leaders, and yearlong networking opportunities.

The CGF’s Managing Director Peter Freedman then argued the case for purpose. Peter drove home the point that trust in business is declining and how data clearly shows there is little to no confidence in large corporations and brands. This is not a sustainable place to be in. Declining trust should be a basis for action. But, Peter explained, if you want to be a leader with purpose, you need to learn how to collaborate.  

Two heavyweight retail CEOs then followed: Olaf Koch of METRO AG and Özgür Tort of MIGROS TICARET.

Olaf began by providing insights into decisions he’s had to make on what type of business METRO is going to be and why ‘absolute customer centricity’ is the way forward. Olaf explained METRO is a company that works for other professionals and how they forgot this for a while. He said METRO works for the smaller folks who bring innovation and excitement. He wants to help his consumers be successful and purpose plays a key part of this vision. He said the company is 100% focused on people and this makes it easier to motivate and excite. In doing so, METRO has been able to become a good corporate citizen.

Özgür explored the leadership decisions he’s had to make as CEO, especially around how the company chooses to collaborate with stakeholders. He noted how stakeholders used to refer to suppliers, staff and customers, but now it’s much broader. MIGROS has payment partners and data centre partners. These are new stakeholders that are vital to MIGROS’ success. He also emphasised to the young leaders in the room that failure is acceptable. We have to admit we fail sometimes. Failure is not a big thing. However, he said, you need to be transparent, honest and humble if you are to succeed today in an executive position.  

Peter van der Werf, Senior Engagement Specialist, Robeco and Julie Nash, Director, Food and Capital Markets, Ceres then explored the role of the investor in supporting leadership with purpose. Julie introduced the financial power of institutional investors and how, for example, leading global investors managing US$6.4 trillion called on companies to eliminate deforestation in South American cattle production. Peter talked more specifically about Robeco and how they make investment decisions. Climate change, he said, is a crucial driver companies need to prepare for. For pension funds, we see a strong need to see how their portfolios line up with the two degrees scenario. He then highlighted how it’s a must for companies to fully integrate sustainability into their strategic visions.

Delegates were then treated to a workshop on managing your business through the lifecycle of a crisis, facilitated by Mary Calam, Senior Expert, McKinsey & Company and former Director General, National Security at the UK Home Office. Mary began by setting the scene. She noted crises are becoming more frequent and the cost of failure more extreme. She also said companies were, overall, ill-equipped to deal with them as forces can come from all directions.

Following a round of group discussions, role-plays and live press conference scenarios, Mary provided some insights into a model that can guide companies through a crisis. She highlighted how crises tend to go through four phases of evolution and how decisions made in the first 72 hours of a crisis can dramatically impact the next months and years for a company.

The afternoon kicked-off with a session on purpose in action, as the CGF’s Environmental Sustainability Director Ignacio Gavilan and the CGF’s Health & Wellness Steering Committee Co-Chair Isabelle Grosmaitre, who is Alimentation Initiatives Catalyst at Danone, explored sustainability and health challenges and opportunities. And, importantly, how positive actions are taking place around the world and changing the way business is being done.

Ignacio covered a number of sustainability challenges, like refrigeration, plastics, food waste and deforestation, and how companies and leaders should not focus too much on systems and processes. He encouraged delegates to ensure there is clear accountability among company departments and to listen to consumers – they trust brands that are transparent, commit and report.

Isabelle began by explaining health is a global issue for people all over the world and for the planet, and how company’s need to go from cure to care and they need collaboration to get there. She said, at Danone, a food revolution is happening, and we choose to serve it with partners. Danone wants to be a catalyst of change and foster healthier and more sustainable eating and drinking practices. She then talked about the work of the CGF as unique platform that allows companies to act collectively to empower people to live healthier lives and drive shared value.

John Phillips, SVP Customer Supply Chain & Global Go-To-Market, PepsiCo, then came to the stage to talk digital disruption, providing a journey around the technologies that will impact the CPG and retail industry of tomorrow. Technologies discussed included AI and robotics in retail, the connected home and Internet of Things, and autonomous vehicles and drones driving last mile efficiency and reducing costs. John also provided key points to act on for each of the technologies discussed. In closing, he asked the young leaders in the room to think big and extend their vision all the way to the consumers: be the change agents.

Day One closed out with the Hackathon, facilitated by Andrew Cosgrove, Consumer Lead Analyst, EY, and Florian Huber, Consumer Transformation Leader – Germany, EY. Introducing the topic, delegates were shown how the consumer goods industry is at an inflection point. Disruptive technologies, new business models and agile market entrants are revolutionising the way people shop and what they buy. Key assumptions that have shaped the industry for decades – from the best way to organise a business to the products and services to sell – are becoming increasingly irrelevant. Then, in this exclusive mini-hack, participants explored 150 drivers of change and ideated new products and business models that will be relevant to the future consumer.  

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About The Consumer Goods Forum

The Consumer Goods Forum (“CGF”) is a global, parity-based industry network that is driven by its members to encourage the global adoption of practices and standards that serves the consumer goods industry worldwide. It brings together the CEOs and senior management of some 400 retailers, manufacturers, service providers, and other stakeholders across 70 countries, and it reflects the diversity of the industry in geography, size, product category and format. Its member companies have combined sales of EUR 3.5 trillion and directly employ nearly 10 million people, with a further 90 million related jobs estimated along the value chain. It is governed by its Board of Directors, which comprises more than 50 manufacturer and retailer CEOs. For more information, please visit:

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Lee Green
Director, Communications
The Consumer Goods Forum