The keynote speaker at next month’s Unitas Conference in Athens is a self-made multi-millionaire entrepreneur who rose from humble beginnings to take on the establishment by setting up a community bank with his own money. He’s Dave Fishwick, the inspiration for the Netflix movie Bank of Dave.
Born and raised in Burnley, Dave left school aged 16 with no qualifications and used his natural charm and business skills to become a successful businessman. Determinedly independent and proud of his roots, he realised after the economic crisis in 2008/09 that high street banks were no longer giving loans to his customers, so he decided to lend them the money himself.
In 2012 he was the focus of the Channel 4 documentary series Bank of Dave, which followed him as he set out to create his bank and send it into profit in 180 days. A movie with the same name starred Rory Kinnear as Dave, and a sequel has already been commissioned. His book “Bank of Dave: How I Took on the Banks” was described by The Times as, “a wonderful tale of David and Goliath”.
“Dave is the perfect speaker to close our conference business sessions,” said Unitas MD John Kinney. “His story will resonate with our wholesaler members who are following the same path of building big businesses with small business community values. His community lending scheme reflects our belief that independent businesses are stronger together when they share resources and expertise.”
Expert speakers presenting on the first day of business sessions include the noted economist Paul Johnson of the Institute of Fiscal Studies, and Katherine Morgan, director of public affairs consultancy Dentons Global Advisors. They and others will look at the challenges and opportunities for the wholesale channel in five areas: Economy, Legislation, People, Technology and Sustainability.
The following two days are devoted to deep dives into retail, foodservice and on trade, with presentations, panels and discussion sessions. More than 20 Unitas wholesalers will be contributing on stage and screen.
The conference, from 15-19 September, also includes face-to-face Meet the Member sessions, sight-seeing excursions and evening entertainment including a gala dinner.