DB awards 2017: profiling the winners

Drinks Company of the Year

Conviviality Plc

Conviviality, now the UK’s largest independent distributor, supplier and solution provider to the on and off-trade, impressed judges with its insightful pitch and achievements over the past couple of years.

Taking the drinks industry in the UK “by the scruff of the neck,” following a reverse takeover of Matthew Clark, Conviviality went on to purchase events agency Peppermint at the end of 2015, followed by Bibendum PLB in May 2016. In just 2 years, revenues have grown from around £360 million in 2015 to over £1.5 billion today.

With the current alcohol market worth £14.3 billion, Conviviality is responsible for around 8% of industry retail sales. The share price has risen accordingly to reflect these changes, rising to 307.50p (02/05/2017) from its float price of 1.00p (31/07/2013).

The company itself has grown, aside from the acquisitions, with the number of stores rising by 15% in the past year. The buyer team has also doubled in size, with Conviviality also launching ‘Future Buyers’ to promote and support upcoming talent.

Judges commended Conviviality for the high staff morale. In its pitch, Conviviality stated that “the greatest asset of any acquisition is the people” and the judges at this year’s awards recognised their success in bringing capable and skilled professionals together and placing them in appropriate roles.

Atom Group
Liberty Wines
Spirit of Harrogate

Logistics Company of the Year

JF Hillebrand

It may have won this award many times over but JF Hillebrand shows no signs of complacency and as a business it is constantly innovating.

In the challenging world of beverage logistics, JF Hillebrand continues to lead the way as a specialist, ‘one stop shop’ for the trade.

With a network of local offices in 84 countries around the world and a number of carrier partnerships, JF Hillebrand is capable of handling bulk and cased beverages, adapting to circumstance and needs and offering flexible solutions to clients.

Last year Hillebrand’s shipment of Prosecco rose 17% on 2015, with 21 million bottles shipped in the last quarter alone. When one client was caught out by high demand for the sparkling wine around Christmas, Hillebrand was able to collect two containers from the supplier and managed the documentation.

To satisfy the demand for US craft beer, it created an East Coast US to UK groupage service in just two months. The service features temperature control and short time transit to bring craft beers to the UK in the best condition possible, something particularly important for unpasteurised beers.

It is also committed to sustainability and reducing its carbon footprint. Hillebrand recently invested in a second recycling facility in the UK for Bulk Flexitanks and is now able to recycle approximately 80% of the bulk tanks shipped to the UK and 95% of the bulkheads, its stated aim is to be recycling 100% before too long.


Best Supply Chain Initiative

Liv-ex for Wine Matcher

Having scooped the prize last year for its SIB Passport and instant transfer initiative, Liv-ex has returned with a tool it calls ‘Wine Matcher’ that has far-reaching and practical implications for the fine wine trade.

Wine Matcher is machine-learning tool that is designed to help merchants quickly and easily work through wine lists in order to determine prices, find trading opportunities and move stock through the supply chain.

It works by taking a list and transforming the wine names and formats into a unique ID using Liv-ex’s ‘LWIN’ system. These numbers can then be shared with other systems, used to download price data from Liv-ex or put into a database for comparison.

Able to process 5,000 lines of data a minute, Wine Matcher will save merchants weeks of time-consuming work, making valuation and trade more efficient and more accurate.

Liv-ex has used Wine Matcher to standardise its library of over 50 million records collated over the last 15 years. It is this collection which gave Wine Matcher its initial intelligence and it is currently employed matching 45,000 lines of data a day. The tool will be available to internet users through the cloud as it is powered by Amazon web services.

The judges thought this a “very clever innovation” for a small but important part of the trade and thought it was an application that could be adapted.

LCB for its bonded wine insurance scheme

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