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db awards 2014: The winners revealed

The great and good of the drinks industry gathered to see this year’s 2014 Drinks Business Award winners announced at the London Wine Fair this week.

Now in its 11th year, the db awards have become the most authoritative, internationally respected badge of achievement in the alcoholic drinks industry.

From the retail sector to importers, logistics, design marketing campaigns and launches, the db Awards are designed to recognise and reward top performers across the international drinks industry.

Unveiled each year at the London Wine Fair, it is a chance for outstanding companies and individuals to win high profile recognition in front of some of the industry’s most influential representatives.

Full details on all of our award winners will be published in an upcoming issue of the drinks business.

Scroll through to see who picked up awards at this year’s ceremony… 

Best Contribution to Wine & Spirits Tourism

Winner: Taste Hungary

“While the New World has long embraced wine tourism, many parts of Europe are less adept at encouraging visitors to discover their region, but this year’s winner has created a novel approach to entice tourists to the heart of the Continent.”

Retailer of the Year

Winner: Selfridges

“However, one operation stood out for the quality of its service, excellent merchandising and specialist selection. In particular, the judges were impressed at how this small chain of upmarket stores has really embraced new and niche categories, such as Chinese wine, sake or Mezcal.”

Runner-up: Tesco

“Firstly, this year we had a close second, with one retailer impressing the judges for its broad and brave own-label range, new store layouts and overall professionalism.”

Online Retailer of the Year

Winner: Tesco 

“Praised for its intelligent approach to the web, this supermarket was widely felt to have used its existing high brand awareness to the best effect, treating online retailing very differently to selling drinks in-store, with novel techniques such as co-buying for wine. Yes, this year’s online retailer of the year is also the UK’s biggest.”

Special commendation: Master of Malt

“The judges decided to give a special commendation to a web-based business which was described as fun, interactive and providing a positive contribution to whisky retailing.”

Independent Retailer of the Year

Winner: Loki Wine

“This year one shop was particularly highly praised for creating a genuine sense of excitement in a challenging neighborhood. Indeed, it has burst onto the independent wine scene in Birmingham, and attracted national interest with its eclectic range and in-store sampling programme.”

Best Launch

Winner: Coravin

“However, there was one new product that has not only wowed us, but changed the way anyone can sample wine. Just starting to make its way into the UK, it’s been described as a game changer in the restaurant sector and allows anyone to sample wine in their cellar without pulling any corks.”

Special commendation: Eulogy! for Beluga vodka

“The judges wanted to commend a “clever” launch strategy that saw a new brand successfully break into a crowded category.”

Design & Packaging for Wine

Winner: Pepperjack by The Collective

“A product that the judges felt was both beautifully executed and told a story which would serve as a great conversation piece at a dinner party.”

Special commendation: Paperboy by Stranger & Stranger

“The judges decided to award a special commendation to a design that is both daring and genuinely unique in wine packaging.”

Design & Packaging for Spirits

Winner:  Bailey’s Chocolat Luxe by Lewis Moberly

“As for a winner, the judges were unanimous in their praise for a piece of packaging that has successfully and beautifully taken an existing brand into a new and more luxurious sphere.”

Special commendation: Bunnahabhain 40 year old by Burn Stewart Distillers.

“The judges decided to award a special commendation in this category, and that goes to a design that was deemed both aspirational and exciting.”

Best Logistics Company

Winner: JF Hillebrand

“This company has been praised our judges for its “restless innovation” and adding real value to its clients’ businesses as well as recent in-house initiatives such as a Carbon Calculator tool.”

Runner-up: London City Bond

“We decided to award a company which has undergone major changes in the last year, moving head office and investing £1 million into its Vinotheque fine wine storage facility.”

Best Trade Campaign

Winner: The WSTA for its Call Time on Duty campaign

“This goes to a well-orchestrated campaign which won resounding support from the drinks trade and undoubtedly played a vital role in the UK Chancellor’s decision to halt the damaging alcohol duty escalator.”

Special commendation: The Benevolent for its campaign called Here to Help

“The judges wanted to recognise the fantastic job being done by the UK’s drinks trade charity, whose campaign marks a major step up in efforts to build awareness of the support services it offers.”

Best Consumer Campaign

Winner: Concha y Toro for The Wine Legend

“Our winning campaign was spearheaded by a film that brought a wine brand to the attention of a whole new audience. Supported by extensive sampling activity, it managed to connect fantasy with reality. “It’s sexy, exciting and what we want wine to be,” said one judge of the campaign.”

Runner-up: Hope & Glory for Meantime’s “True Brew of London”

“We decided this year to award a campaign, which, although not a winner, deserved recognition for how to make a big impact with a modest budget. With its “Hops in a Box” offer, it not only connected with a wide audience but resulted in a significant sales uplift.”

Best On-Trade Supplier

Winner: Liberty Wines

“Our winner, which has not only implemented major changes in the last year, but was able to show how these moves have generated some impressive sales results.”

Runner-up: Bibendum Wine

“In a closely fought contest, one company, although not a winner, impressed with its consistently creative approach that not only taps into current trends, but looks to opportunities in the future.”

Best PR Company

Winner: Phipps

“From 31 Days of German Riesling to the ongoing, ever-evolving event that is Tapas Fantasticas, this year’s winning team showed it has the expertise and personalities to deliver great results for its extensive, varied client base.”

Runner-up: Proven Communication

“This was a highly competitive category and this year we decided to reward one company, which, although not this year’s winner, was a close second for its impressive events and respected small team.”

Best Retail Buying Team

Winner: Tesco

“It’s easy to knock one of the largest retailers on the planet, but this year’s winner is a wine team which offers a level of personality that is a world away from its corporate image. Nowhere does that come through more strongly than during their online Facebook consumer forums, not to mention the hugely successful Wine Fair programme. Yes, they’re tough negotiators, but as one judge remarked: “they are good, fun, passionate people.”

Runner-up: Laithwaites Wine

“The judges decided to recognise one team with a runner up award, noting the passion and experience that allows this company to champion niche categories alongside carefully sourced wines from more mainstream categories.”


Best Drinks Company of the Year

Winner: Liberty Wines

“In a category crammed with high quality entrants one company stood out for opening a host of new accounts and offering spectacular service, while balancing its position as one of the UK’s larger suppliers with one of the most exciting, well curated wine portfolios in the country.”

Retail Buyer

Winner: Beth Willard of Laithwaites’ Wine

“Within a team which impressed the judges this year, one individual really stood out from her peers. In addition to managing the buying for one third of Laithwaites’ UK range, with Spain a particular specialism, she has played a major role in giving small producers access to a global market platform. Romania has been a particular area of focus, although her commitment to spending one week per month “in the field”, coupled with the ability to speak no fewer than six languages, has enabled this buyer to uncover an unrivalled number of exciting new wines for her customers.

“Described by Tony Laithwaite as “probably one of the best buyers we’ve ever had in over 40 years of shipping wine”, she’s a name we can expect to hear more and more of in the years to come.”

Young Achiever

Winner: Phil Innes

“Like many of his generation, our Young Achiever of the Year developed his appreciation of wine while working for Wine Rack and Oddbins. However, having graduated from university he recognised the need for a retail model that fitted the needs of the 21st century. The initial result was Sloshbox Wine – a business designed around maximizing the potential of online retail.

“Using skills developed through this venture, our winner went on to found Loki Wine in Birmingham back in 2012. Within a very short space of time, this wine merchant and bar has made a major impact both locally and in the national press, as well as cultivating a strong, influential social media presence.”

Travel Retail Operator

Winner: Dubai Duty Free

“One operation stood out for the quality of its service, excellent merchandising and specialist selection. Not only that, but this luxury retailer has sold an impressive volume of drinks in 2013, shifting over $122m of whisky and $34m of wine.”

Responsible Drinking Message

Winner: Love your liver by Halewood and Wm Morrison

“This year one campaign stood out among the impressive and well-targeted entries for its simple responsible drinking message that doesn’t demonize drinks, but encourages people to take two to three consecutive days off alcohol.”

Man of the Year

Winner: Ian Harris, chief executive of WSET

“With a career spanning five decades in the wine industry, this year’s drinks business man of the year originally planned a career as a teacher. Fortunately for us, a year spent studying in Bordeaux convinced him to swerve from this path into the drinks trade. For the first 25 years, he worked in sales and marketing for companies including Waverley Vintners, where he was the company’s first wine development manager, and then Seagram, which involved a stint in Cognac as global marketing manager for Martell.

“When Seagram was taken over in 2002, he found his next challenge with the Wine & Spirits Education Trust, where he has now held the post of chief executive for the last 12 years. During that time, this educational charity has grown from training just over 10,000 candidates with a turnover of £1.7 million to last year’s achievement of nearly 50,000 candidates and a turnover of more than £8.5 million. Much of this growth has come from the WSET’s overseas expansion, which has taken the organisation from a body dominated by UK students to an educational powerhouse that now spans 558 centres in 62 countries and 18 languages.

“It is largely thanks to his energy and strategic skills that the WSET has reinvented itself as a leading global player in the field of wine and spirits education.”

Woman of the Year

Winner: Margareth Henriquez, CEO of Krug

“Our Woman of the Year was chosen for the impact she’s had on her company in a short space of time and for gaining respect in a close-knit region in which she’s an outsider. Joining in late 2008 when the global economy was in meltdown, it couldn’t have been a worse time to take the reins as the CEO of a global luxury brand. Her experience working for Chandon in Argentina during the economic crisis of 2001 stood our Venezuelan born winner in good stead for her next role.

“Since joining Champagne house Krug, she emphasized what sets Krug apart from other houses in terms of heritage and philosophy, while championing the ageing potential of the house’s flagship fizz, Krug Grand Cuvée.

“Over five years on from the financial crisis, Krug is enjoying growth in key markets like the UK, the US and Japan, but our winner is hungry for further success and has her sights set on China.”

Lifetime Achievement Award

Winner: Tom Yusef, chairman at JF Hillebrand

“This year’s recipient came to England from Cyprus in 1956 at the age of 11 with his family in search of new beginnings. His first job on leaving school aged 15 was sweeping the floors of the local barber’s shop, having been turned down for the chance to become a professional footballer – apparently because he was too short!

“He fell into a career in the shipping and logistics industry in 1961, when he was hired as a Dock messenger by one of the London Shipping Companies. Starting from the bottom, he gained a solid grounding in all aspects of logistics and, such was his business acumen and charm, in 1972, he was approached to establish a new venture called Ferry Freighting Group (FFG).

“By the early 80s, this company had grown to become the market leaders for the import of wines and spirits from Europe to the UK. In 1997 Ferry Freighting merged with JF Hillebrand and under his leadership, continued to expand its business in the UK, adapting over time to the evolving needs of the market, for example the more recent growth in bulk wine transportation.

Our recipient has also enjoyed long service as an Executive Board member of the WSTA, from which he retired earlier this year, and he was President of the Wine & Spirit Association between 2000 and 2002 – considered quite an achievement for a “Trucker”.

“He “officially” retired from JF Hillebrand in March this year, but has insisted it is “Au revoir”, not Good Bye.”

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