IHT 2021 Visual

71st International Retail Summit

Moving Closer: Retail in Vulnerable Times

Hashtag: #iht21

Uncertainty, vulnerability and ambivalence: welcome back to the world of risk. But just how long can we keep going? Employees are suffering from screen fatigue, members of the public are fearful for the future, and customers are demonstrating ‘trip consolidation’: visiting fewer shops, but buying more from them.
The Covid-19 pandemic has created a longing for closeness, not only in terms of contact with other people, but also when it comes to consumption: regional products, local shops, delivery services. Even brands are moving closer to their customers with the successful direct-to-consumer model.
At the GDI’s 71st International Retail Summit, we explore the implications of these developments for people and companies alike, and present potential success factors for retail during these vulnerable times.

  • What does leadership involve when managers and employees are working from home while, at the same time, ‘essential services’ continue to be provided in logistics and supermarkets?
  • What will remain online after pandemic shopping, and what will go back to ‘bricks and mortar’? What will our shopping experience look like in the future? Will it also become purely virtual?
  • Will the heavyweights continue their crusade of consolidation?
  • Will there be a renaissance in the restaurant industry, retail’s little brother?
  • Organic and vegan, local and regional products are making great strides at the moment. But what will happen to sustainability after the pandemic?

Twitter hashtag: #iht21


Thursday, 9 September, 10.00 – 17.45

Welcome coffee

David Bosshart (CH), Executive Advisor, Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute
Moving Closer: Retail in Vulnerable Times
- Why security fades and we must assume responsibility.
- Are we people of space or of time?
- Customer relationships: What we underestimate and what we overestimate.

via livestream
Sucharita Kodali (US), Retail Industry Expert, Forrester
Tech Killed Retail: Here’s How It Comes Back
- What research tells us about shifts and trends in consumer demand and behaviour.
- Why retailers need to step up against big tech.
- The emergence of brand manufacturers in retail.

Erich Harsch (DE), Chairman of the Executive Board, Hornbach Baumarkt
All About People: Lessons From The Crisis
- Have social distancing and home office changed the principles of leadership?
- Customer service during the pandemic.
- From the DIY store to the living room shelf: striking new paths on the last mile.

Networking lunch

Mario Irminger (CH), CEO, Denner
In the Neighbourhood: Discounters as Local Suppliers
- Why the format benefited from the pandemic and what will happen next.
- Fresh, organic, baking station: How does the discounter win new customers, and what happens to cost leadership?

Thomas Gutberlet (DE), Managing Director, tegut
Courage to Take Risks: New Concepts in the Niche
- How customer proximity can be redefined in stationary food retail.
- Fully automated shop and e-commerce with Amazon: The unconventional path of an unconventional supplier.

via livestream
Neha Singh (US), Founder and CEO, Obsess
Rethinking the Online Shop: Making E-Commerce Beautiful
- How the monotonous grid of webshops can be replaced by an immersive virtual experience.

Javier Goyeneche (ES), President and Founder, Ecoalf
From Plastic to Fantastic: Recycling Waste for Fashion
- How new textile technologies help to fight ocean pollution.

Coffee break


via livestream
Stephanie Crespin (GB), Founder and CEO, Reflaunt
Resale as a Service: Extending the Life of Luxury Products
- Reconnecting brands with their customers by helping them sell their pre-loved fashion items.

via livestream
Andy Hunter (US), Founder, bookshop.org
David vs Goliath: Big Presence for Small Bookstores
- How a platform with a social mission rivals Amazon.
- Allowing sellers to get a fair share through an alternative business model.

Benedict Evans (GB), Independent analyst
The Great Unbundling: Strategic Trends in Tech
- How retail, brands, TV and advertising are being overturned.
- Is there a future for platforms?
- The second 50 years in tech: An outlook.

from 18.00
Indian Summer Dinner
A pleasant evening on the beautiful GDI terrace with late summer delicacies, drinks and good company.

Shuttleservice: transfer to Hotel Sedartis and Thalwil train station

Friday, 10 September, 09.00 – 14.00

Duncan Clark (CN), Chairman, BDA China
Going East: How to Win the Chinese Market
- Latest trends in retail and e-commerce in China.
- Alibaba and beyond: Understanding the shape of the China market - new players, new technology, new rules.
- Where will Chinese consumers spend in the future, and what does it mean for the European market?

via livestream
Francesco Farinetti (IT), President and CEO, Green Pea
Creating the Green Mall: An Eataly of Things
- How to reinvent a doomed shopping format for the 21st century.
- Why a one-stop destination for sustainable services and products caters to today’s consumers.

Coffee break

A conversation with
Urs Niggli (CH), Agricultural scientist  and former Director General of the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL)
The Future of Food: How Will We Feed 10 Billion People?
- Is high-tech agronomy the answer to the destruction of biodiversity?
- Organic, regional, local: The future for all or only for rich nations?
- How fast will we see change, what are the levers, and who are the key players?

Anna Gawlikowska (CH), Chief Operating Officer, Swiss AI
Better Decisions with AI: Modelling of What-if Scenarios
- Using digital twins of society and businesses to simulate possible futures.
- How retail, from product management and logistics to store location and online activities, can profit from an AI approach to complex situations.

via livestream
Kate Darling (US), Research Specialist, MIT Media Lab
Moving Closer: Becoming Attached to Robots
- Why People Become Strangely Attached to their robot vacuum cleaners.
- Why the treatment of machines can reveal a new understanding of our own history, our own systems, and how we relate to one another.
- Why treating robots like we treat animals will actually serve us better.

Networking lunch


Duncan Clark Photo

Duncan Clark

Chairman, BDA China and author of “Alibaba: The House that Jack Ma Built”. BDA is an advisory firm serving investors in high growth companies in the technology and consumer sectors in China and other Asian markets. A senior China policy advisor to institutional investors, corporations and governments, Duncan is also a member of the Board of Trustees of the Asia Society in New York.

Javier Goyeneche

Javier Goyeneche

President and Founder, Ecoalf. Goyeneche’s sustainable fashion branduses recycled waste plastic in order to turn it into high-quality fabrics and material. The prestigious leadership and management forum, Thinkers50, included Goyeneche on its 2019 talent radar and he was awarded the Schwab Foundation’s Social Innovators of the year 2020.

Sucharita Kodali

Sucharita Kodali

(via livestream)

VP and Principal Analyst, Forrester. Kodali serves digital business strategy professionals. She is an expert on e-commerce, omnichannel retail, consumer behavior, and trends in online shopping. Kodali is also an authority on technology developments that affect the online commerce industry. Her research covers eCommerce forecasting and social computing in retail.

Eric Harsch

Erich Harsch

Chairman of the Executive Board, Hornbach Baumarkt. Harsch’s areas of responsibility include Strategic Development, Sales and Services, Real Estate, and Corporate Social Responsibility. Previously, Harsch was CEO of dm-drogerie markt.

Mario Irminger

Mario Irminger

CEO, Denner. Irminger worked for eight years at Ernst & Young until 1996, when he joined Heineken Switzerland in the consumer goods sector. As Chief Financial Officer, he played a key role in the strategic development of the Swiss business. Since 2011, he has been CEO of the leading Swiss food discounter.

Urs Niggli

Urs Niggli

Former Director General of the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL) in Frick, Switzerland. Niggli is a Swiss agricultural scientist and pioneer of organic agriculture. Under his 30 year leadership, FiBL has developed into one of the world's leading research institutes. He is also the founder of agroecology.science, a consulting company for sustainability and organic farming.

Benedict Evans

Benedict Evans

Independent analyst. Evans spent 20 years analysing mobile, media and technology, and worked in equity research, strategy, consulting and venture capital. He writes a weekly newsletter with over 150,000 subscribers and is a partner with Mosaic Ventures and Entrepreneur First.

Neha Singh

Neha Singh

(via livestream)

Founder & CEO of Obsess, an experiential e-commerce platform enabling brands to create visual, immersive, branded virtual stores. Singh was previously the Head of Product at “Vogue”, where she was responsible for the product strategy and technology execution of the digital business including content products, ad products and distribution platforms.

Anna Gawlikowska

Anna Gawlikowska

Chief Operating Officer, Swiss AI, a company that models future scenarios with AI. Gawlikowska is a seasoned Executive and Business Developer in complex innovation and technology projects in various industries, from energy, real estate, smart cities, mobility to software development.

Francesco Farinetti

Francesco Farinetti

(via livestream)

President and CEO, Green Pea, a sustainable architectural project that extends the former Fiat Lingotto factory in Turin, an icon of rationalist architecture.. Farinetti started working for Eataly Torino in 2007, in charge of the wine section. In 2007, he became Eataly Distribuzione SRL's CEO. In 2019 Farinetti took care of Green Pea's development under the guidance of his father, Green Pea's creator and founder Oscar Farinetti.

Thomas Gutberlet

Thomas Gutberlet

Managing Director, Tegut. Thomas Gutberlet is the grandson of the company's founder Theo Gutberlet. He worked at dm-drogerie markt as well as Nestlé before joining the family business. Tegut is a food retail chain that values ecological and regional products, environmentally friendly packaging and sustainable markets.

Stephanie Crespin

Stephanie Crespin

(via livestream)

Founder & CEO, Reflaunt. The startup’s technology – blockchain backed digital IDs that trace products from retail to resale  – enables luxury fashion brands to provide a resale offer to their customers. Their aim: a more conscious approach to fashion consumerism. Reflaunt secured investments by MadaLuxe Group, a leading worldwide distributor of luxury fashion.

Andy hunter

Andy Hunter

(via livestream)

Founder & CEO, Bookshop.org. Local, independent bookstores are allowed to create their own virtual shop front on this site. By giving away 30% of the profit margin, Bookshop.org financially supports these traditional booksellers.

David Bosshart

David Bosshart

Author, Speaker, Executive Advisor

Dr. David Bosshart was CEO of the GDI Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute for consumption, economic and social studies from 1999 to 2020. Since 2020 he has been President of the Gottlieb and Adele Duttweiler Foundation.


Reto Brennwald

Reto Brennwald

TV journalist, filmmaker and media trainer. From 2008 to 2011 Reto Brennwald presented SRF's politics programme "Arena". Prior to that, he had been moderator of the "Rundschau" for seven years. Reto Brennwald has been active in the electronic media sphere for 25 years. In 2015 he founded the Talk&Film GmbH for communication, moderation and film production.


2 days, 1 person: 

Full price: CHF 2500

20 % early-bird discount until 15 June: CHF 2000

2 days, 2 or more persons:

Full price: CHF 2125 / person

can be cumulated with:

early-bird discount until 15 June: CHF 1625

1 day, per person: 

Full price: CHF 1500

20 % early-bird discount until 15 June: CHF 1200

Livestream, 2 days:

CHF 1200

20 % early-bird discount until 15 June: CHF 960

Price for startups:

CHF 800 (2 days), CHF 600 (one day), CHF 600 Livestream

(Request for voucher code: iht(at)gdi.ch)
Payment in advance. Reduced fees apply when more than one participant from the same company registers at the same time. Any subsequent participant registered later will be invoiced separately. The conference fee includes all food and beverages (and VAT). Participants registering less than two weeks before the event can pay by credit card only.



German / English (simultaneous interpretation)

COVID certificate

In order to provide you with the safest and most unrestricted conference experience possible, a valid COVID certificate and official ID are required to attend the conference.

The certificate serves as proof that you are fully vaccinated, recovered or have tested negative. This will allow all participants to move around the GDI more freely and without a mask.

The GDI will offer free COVID tests on both days of the conference. If you test negative, you can get the certificate you need right on the spot. The testing facilities are located directly in front of the institute, please register online for an appointment:

  • 09 September 8.30 - 11.00 a.m.
  • 10 September 8.00 - 10.00 a.m.

The Swiss Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) has published further information on the COVID certificate and the entry requirements for Switzerland.

Changes to the programme

The programme is subject to change. If an event does not take place, fees will be refunded. Further claims are ruled out.


If you are unable to attend, please let us have your cancellation in writing. The fee will be reimbursed on cancellation thirty or more days before the event. After this term and until five full working days prior to the event we will charge 75% of the fee. In the event of later cancellations we will charge the full participation fee. Substitute participants welcome.

Hotel reservation

To benefit from special rates, please use the following email adresses and refer to the code: IHT2021

Hotel Sedartis, Thalwil: info@sedartis.ch

Hotel Alex Lake, Thalwil: book here

Hotel Belvoir, Ruschlikon: info@hotel-belvoir.ch

Hotel Ibis, Adliswil: welcome@ibiszurich.ch

From Zurich airport
You can reach the GDI and partner hotels by taxi in around 45 minutes. The cost is approximately CHF 100, depending on traffic. Alternatively, the train is a fast and easy way of reaching Zurich and Thalwil train station (online timetable).

There will be a free shuttle bus service between the GDI and the Hotel Sedartis / Thalwil train station. 

Shuttle bus: Thalwil – GDI
The GDI shuttle bus runs from the Thalwil train station to the GDI. The bus will wait on the lake side of the station. A GDI staff member will be on site to meet you. Hotel Sedartis guests may also use this bus.

Thursday, 9 September
Thalwil station – GDI: 09.00 – 09.45, every 15 minutes
GDI – Thalwil station: 17.45 – 19.00, every 15 minutes; 19.00 – 22.00 on request
Friday, 10 September
Thalwil station – GDI: 08.00 – 08.45, every 15 minutes
GDI – Thalwil station: 13.00 – 14.00, every 15 minutes
Hotel Belvoir is within walking distance of the GDI.
You are welcome to leave your luggage in the GDI cloakroom.
The car park is a five minute walk from the GDI and located on Zürcherstrasse 4, 8803 Rüschlikon. You will receive a ticket from the GDI to exit the car park free of charge.


GDI Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute
Langhaldenstrasse 21
8803 Rüschlikon


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