October 2, 2024
Virtual Event

Buyer Connections + Education + Networking — This annual meeting of the International Business Council (IBC) provides a platform for attendees to learn from key retailers, key distributors and industry-savvy specialists discussing relevant export topics and providing education on market entry, global product development and marketing strategies.

Registration will be free of charge for IHA members.

2023 Session Details

Tuesday, October 3

Wednesday, October 4

Tuesday, October 3

10:00 A.M.

Presenter: Giancarlo Barzotti, IBC Board Member, Whitmor Inc.

10:30 A.M.

United Hardware is Ireland’s leading buying and marketing group for builders’ merchants, DIY and home & garden retail stores. The primary aim of United Hardware is to offer its independent members combined buying power, which will enable them to remain competitive in an environment dominated by large chains. Headquartered in Dublin, the group operates from a 140,000-sq-ft purpose-built warehouse which helps achieve its objective to deliver enhanced purchasing power, marketing, logistics and business advisory support to its independent retailers.

Presenter: Paul Candon, CEO, United Hardware

11:15 A.M.

Based in Barcelona, Indòmit, sources global brands and distributesproducts within the home and housewares markets in Spain and Portugal, increasing awareness of and image in these brands.

This session will offer a transparent and direct overview presentation of their markets, including demographics, main channels and volume of sales, highlighting department stores, key home and housewares chains, HORECA, online, mass market and independent retailers, focusing on trends and nuances of the market and retailers.

Presenters: Marta Papasseit, CFO, Indòmit; Jordi Balius, CCO Indòmit

12:30 P.M.

2:00 P.M.

Executives from Circana, the market research and analytics company created by the merger of The NPD Group and IRI, will provide a focused view of the opportunities for growth in Canada and Mexico, drawing on data from the $4 trillion-plus in global consumer spending. The session will help identify indicators of where home and housewares consumers and retailers are focusing and the growth trajectory in these two key North American markets.

Presenters: Renee Badiola, Director, Mexico Home, Circana; Pam Wood, Executive Director, Circana Canada

2:45 P.M.

Canadian Tire, with 500 outlets throughout Canada, has a long-standing reputation for integrity and trustworthiness – attributes that have come to be expected by the retailer’s customers, the Canadian consumer, 90% of whom live within 15 minutes of a Canadian Tire location. Reporting retail sales of CAD 16.58 BN in 2020 (excluding Petroleum), Canadian Tire is committed to not only growing sales for profit, but also reinvesting in the Canadian community.

Carolyn McPhearson, vice president – merchandising, Living Division, will discuss the retailer’s strategies for purchasing home and housewares products based on consumer preference and the best-practices for selling to this key Canadian retailer.

Presenter: Carolyn McPhearson, Vice President – Merchandising, Living Division

6:00 P.M.

6111 N River Rd, Rosemont, IL 60018

Wednesday, October 4

8:00 A.M.

Born out of a manufacturing business, thinKitchen has become a distributor of home and housewares brands throughout India. thinKitchen serves as the sole distributor in India for renowned home and housewares brands. Anand Baldawa will present how, through a multi-channel approach, his company has availed access to premium international kitchenware and homewares products throughout the market.

Presenter: Anand Baldawa, CEO, thinKitchen

8:45 A.M.

Sodimac is a home improvement store with a presence in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru and Uruguay. Currently, the division has six different store formats: SodimacHomecenter, Sodimac Constructor, Imperial, Homy, Dicico and Maestro. With over 220 outlets in Latin America, Sodimac has more than 5 million customers entering its stores each month and aims to not only service its customers with innovative products in the store, but also with its efforts to continuously develop online offerings.

Patricia Barreiro, GMM of Home Décor, manages the central purchasing for the home and housewares category across all stores. This key category accounts for more than 25% of Sodimac’s sales. She will discuss the nuances of the LATAM market, Sodimac’s purchasing strategies and what makes for an ideal supplier to Sodimac.

Presenters: Patricia Barreiro, GMM, Sodimac; Melissa Garza Cantu, Housewares GMM, Mexico, Sodimac

9:30 A.M.

Presenters: IHA Global Offices & Reps

10:00 A.M.

Presenters: Doug Murless, VP business development, Krunchbox 

10:30 A.M.

With a focus on East Africa’s housewares market, Vitu Zote is a thriving omni-channel retailer and distributor known for its exceptional products and customer-centric approach. Founded in 2014, Vituzote.com is a pioneering specialty housewares website that revolutionized the e-commerce landscape and housewares market in the region. Beginning with a focus on bakeware, the business rapidly expanded its product range and now trades in a wide array of home and garden categories and has established a physical presence in several prestigious tier 1 shopping malls across Kenya.

This session will present best practices for the markets in Eastern Africa where Vituzote.com operates, highlighting opportunities in Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda.

Presenter: Aaron Thuo, Managing Director, Vituzote

11:15 A.M.

LivingKitchen, a division of EUROIDEA Group, specializes in curating distinctive collections of premier, western brands, imported to China in ranges of kitchenware, tableware, and small home appliances. LivingKitchen aims to
empower culinary creativity with accoutrements that elevate dining experiences with products of uncompromising quality.

Lin Guo, Vice President of LivingKitchen will discuss the company’s platform that encompasses physical stores and online website, both of which are curated to showcase a perpetually evolving assortment of meticulously crafted home and housewares products. Focus of the presentation will highlight how suppliers can best work with this Chinese distributor and retailer which not only distributes products, but also curates a lifestyle for the Chinese consumer. LivingKitchen strives to import and sell product that invite customers to explore, engage and embrace a journey that intertwines the culinary and the cultural, within the arena of the kitchen—a space where cooking, living, and enjoyment harmoniously converge.

Presenter: Lin Guo, Vice President, Beijing LivingKitchen Group

12:30 P.M.

Presenter: Giancarlo Barzotti, IBC Board Member, Whitmor Inc.

12:45 P.M.





Manufacturer Representatives


Renee Badiola

Director, Mexico Home

Renee Badiola is Circana’s director and industry analyst for the home industry in Mexico. Badiola has experience in understanding consumer behavior through her role as brand manager at companies such as MARS Wrigley Co. and Bimbo Bakeries (Sara Lee). She also has a background in market research at Nielsen, and has been at Circana for over 10 years. This experience has helped her to collaborate with Mexican brands to strategically analyze and find growth opportunities within the housewares market during challenging times.

Anand Baldawa


Anand Baldawa is an investment banker turned entrepreneur with more than 22 years of varied, international experience. Baldawa has been running his family business, Seeba Group and thinKitchen, since April 2012, with the aim and vision of turning the then-India-based, 26-year-old family owned and operated merchant trading business into a global, new-age, omnichannel premium kitchenware and homeware brand and business. Since joining the business, he has front-led the transformation of the family’s contract manufacturing business – Seeba Industries – by elevating the presence and expansion of the company at a global level. In the last few years, Baldawa and his team have been successful in setting up and scaling multi-fold the family’s domestic agency distribution business under the umbrella brand thinKitchen, which represents more than 30 internationally renowned, premium kitchen and home brands, including Amefa, Joseph Joseph, Kilner, KitchenAid, MasterClass, Brabantia, KitchenCraft, Zoku, Richardson Sheffield, Mikasa, Denby, Klean Kanteen and Dreamfarm.

Jordi Balius Matas


Jordi Balius Matas is the commercial manager of Indòmit, sharing strategic and management functions with his partner Marta Papasseit Boix. He has a degree in economics and business sciences from the University of Barcelona and a postgraduate degree as a Commercial Director. He has worked as a sales manager for Riera Group Distribution, a distributor of brands such as Rösle, Wedgwood, Wüstof and Schott Crystal. Matas went on to work for Kirsch Spain, a Newell Group company, after which he managed sales for Brabantia Spain. As a culmination of his professional experiences and along with Boix, Matas decided to bring his knowledge together in a single project, using his very strong professional network in the home and housewares industry.

Patricia Barreiro

Vice President

Patricia Barreiro runs commercial management across all Sodimac stores in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru. She has vast experience in retail management, directing teams at retailers in Colombia and Brazil. She started her career at Sodimac Chile in 1998 as a merchandising manager for the home décor category. Barreiro has a degree in business administration from CESA in Bogota, Colombia, and an MBA from IE University in Madrid, Spain.

Paul Candon

United Hardware

Paul Candon serves as the CEO of United Hardware. He previously served as CEO for an Irish pharmacy chain and then moved onto the role of managing director of Bunzl Ireland. Candon has much experience over a number of years working in convenience stores, department stores and retail and wholesale distribution of petrol. He is a chartered director and is currently president of the Hardware Association of Ireland, the national representative body for hardware/DIY retailers and builders’ merchants, as well as manufacturers/distributors to the trade. He is also a member of the board of Chartered Institute of Personnel (CIPD) and has several non-executive directorships with Irish and European businesses.

Melissa Garza Cantu

Housewares GMM, Mexico

An industrial engineer with commercial experience on the vendor, distribution and retail sides, Melissa Garza Cantu has been responsible for diverse product categories including housewares, furniture, lighting, outdoor products, home decor and flooring at The Home Depot and now Sodimac Mexico. Currently, she is the GMM for all home and housewares categories across all areas of operation at Sodimac Mexico.

James Ge

LivingKitchenFounder & CEO
Euroidea Corporation

James Ge is the visionary founder and CEO of Euroidea Corporation, having an impressive three decades of experience in the global kitchen and housewares business. His journey through the industry has not only cultivated a deep expertise but also ignited a profound passion that transcends the confines of the kitchen. With a solid foundation in STEM engineering, Ge pursued further knowledge and business acumen at Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business. This combination of technical and business education has been instrumental in his journey. Ge has earned recognition as a leading importer, bringing more than 20 high-end and luxury brands to the forefront, including SMEG, Blendtec, Laurastar, Liebherr, Weber and many more. Under his leadership, Euroidea Corporation has set new standards of excellence and sophistication in the kitchen appliance market in China.

Lin Guo

LivingKitchenVice President, Living Division

Lin Guo has more than 25 years of experience in the global consumer goods industry and a wide spectrum of skills in international business and supply chain management. Guo is vice president, Living Division, LivingKitchen in China, where she also serves as a senior advisor. Guo has a vast understanding of current market conditions in China, consumer trends and the wide array of channels and opportunities for international suppliers doing business in the market.

Carolyn McPhearson

indomitVP - Merchandising, Living Division
Canadian Tire

As a results-driven, customer-focused and lifelong retailer, Carolyn McPherson has spent her career developing programs and executing business strategies to reinvent the customer experience at Canadian Tire while delivering financial growth. Since joining Canadian Tire in 2006, she has held progressive roles within Merchandising and Store Support that have been anchored in building market disrupting strategies, collaborating across the dynamically changing organization and executing meaningful and differentiated in-store experiences for customers across the country. McPherson is also a founding member of the Canadian Tire Women’s Leadership Network, whose main purpose is to connect, inspire and motivate women across the organization to build relationships, make connections and enrich their personal and professional development.

Marta Papasseit Boix is a graduate in economics and business sciences from the University of Barcelona and trained in law. Boix has postgraduate degrees in financial management and taxation. She worked as an auditor, which requires continuous training. Boix has advanced training in business intelligence issues, working successfully with tools such as QlikView and Power BI. Boix has used her training as an auditor and experience as a financial consultant to quickly identify weak points as well as business opportunities. Her background has been an important asset as the CFO of Indòmit.

Aaron Thuo

Founder & Managing Director
Vitu Zote Supplies

Aaron Thuo, a dynamic entrepreneur and visionary leader, is the founder and managing director of Vitu Zote Supplies Limited T/A vituzote.com. With a focus on East Africa’s housewares market, Vitu Zote is a thriving omni-channel retailer and distributor known for its exceptional products and customer-centric approach. Thuo brings a wealth of experience from his time in the United States, where he worked with Comcast, managing e-commerce and customer support for the mid-west region out of Chicago. After returning to Kenya in 2010, he embarked on an entrepreneurial journey by launching and successfully managing an e-commerce price comparison shopping service. The company’s outstanding performance led to its acquisition by a JSE listed company. Thuo has a master’s degree in technology from Eastern Michigan University and a bachelor’s degree in international business from USIU-Africa.

Pam Wood

Executive Director, Canada

Pam Wood is Circana’s executive director and industry analyst for the home industry in Canada. Wood brings more than 25 years of experience in the market research industry, working with leading manufacturers and retailers to identify growth opportunities. Her extensive background in data analytics while working at Circana (The NPD Group) as well as Nielsen, combined with her knowledge and passion for the industry, enables her to provide relevant and actionable insights for the Canadian appliance and housewares market.


IBC Global Forum and CHESS are being held at The Hilton Rosemont/Chicago O’Hare. IHA is pleased to partner with The Hilton to bring you a reduced nightly rate of $209. Book now.

Hilton Rosemont/Chicago O’Hare
5550 N. River Road,
Rosemont, IL 60018

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