Drinks Business Awards 2015: the winners

Travel Retail Operator of the Year

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Finn Lawrence of World Duty Free Group

Winner: World Duty Free Group

It’s easy to be impressed by the scale of the World Duty Free Group’s retailing operations – it runs outlets in over 550 airports across 20 countries.

However, it wasn’t the size of the business that gained WDF the travel retail award for 2015. Rather it was the innovative and beautifully executed approach to selling wines and spirits, which has ensured that drinks now account for 17% of all revenue, making it the second biggest category behind Beauty. 2014 saw wines and spirits grow in sales by 11.5% compared to 2013, boosted by new retailing concepts such as the “Wine Collection” within 26 airports across Spain; “The Connoisseur Collection” for rare whiskies, Cognacs and wines in London Heathrow’s new Terminal 2, as well as new World of Whiskies stores within Heathrow terminals 2 and 5 and London Stansted and Glasgow.

The operator has also handled some of the most expensive and high profile launches of the last year, such as Diageo’s 160-bottle limited edition Brora, and pop-up store concepts, in particular the House of Hennessy – the first boutique from the brand outside the Cognac region.

Retail Buyer of the Year

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Julie Jackson, director of Jackson Nugent Vintners, collected on behalf of Alpio Angeles

Winner: Alpio Angeles from Dubai Duty Free

Alpio Angeles has played an instrumental role in driving double-digit growth in wine sales for his travel retail group in the last year. During 10 years working for Dubai Duty Free, which now operates 20 shops, our winner demonstrated an in-depth understanding of the intricacies of wine buying and forecasting, with the number of SKUs more than tripling over the last seven years and a six-fold increase in value sales over the last decade. On top of this, he is closely involved with the shop floor, coordinating promotions, overseeing in-store displays and training staff in a mission to engage the broad spectrum of customers who pass through this airport environment. Thanks to these efforts, Dubai Duty Free is one of the most impressive forces in drinks retail today.

Young Achiever of the Year

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Michael Vachon of Maverick Drinks

Winner: Michael Vachon

Just three years ago Michael Vachon imported his first 120 cases of gin and whiskey from the US, distributing stock from his London flat. Today he is involved with the import, distribution and brand development of more than 100 different craft spirits from around the world through his own company, Maverick Drinks. With a mission to shake up the drinks industry by bringing new and interesting spirits to market, our winner has already scooped a series of awards, both for his portfolio and his business. Vachon’s craft spirit expertise sees him regularly called on to lead seminars and masterclasses, discussing everything from market opportunities to new production methods. This combination of enthusiasm and knowhow makes him a driving force behind one of the most exciting trends ever to hit the drinks industry.

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