2018’s Drinks Business Awards: profiling the recipients

Fine Wine Retailer of the Year

Winner

Harrods

Opened in late April, Harrods’ new 8,000 square foot fine wine and spirits retail space is so impressive, a new benchmark has been set for luxury drinks merchandising.

The new shop is the product of a multi-million pound investment that is part of a wider food and drink offering the retailer has been dubbed ‘The Taste Revolution’.

db’s editor-in-chief, Patrick Schmitt MW, commented: “The overall appearance of the shop, thanks to designer Martin Brudnizki, is elegant, glamorous as well as cosseting, and has been inspired by the sort of Art Deco opulence captured in The Great Gatsby.”

With marble floors and oak shelving giving the appearance of comfortable opulence, there are also myriad details designed to both promote and protect some exceptionally fine wine to best effect; from ‘Hero Shelves’ that draw the eye to large format claret and Champagne to lighting that does not emit potentially damaging heat or ultraviolet rays and circulating airflows that maintains the optimum temperature and humidity.

The space also includes ‘aroma tables’ that deliver the trademark smells of key noble varieties such as Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and a space entirely devoted to Louis XIII Cognac.

Finally, Harrods has made an increased effort to source its wines directly and to no longer rely on the secondary market, ensuring both provenance and the “stamp of authenticity” its customers expect.

Special commendation

New Street Wine

Opened recently near Liverpool Street Station, New Street Wine boasts an impressive array of 500 wines for all palates and budgets ranging from indigenous Eastern European varieties to grand cru Burgundy – all of which can be consumed either in-store or taken away.

New Street Wine is focused on providing its customers with excellent, unstuffy service that draws them into the world of wine from all angles and shows it is a world to be enjoyed by all.

Retail Buying Team of the Year

Winner

Majestic

One of the UK’s best-known retailers in the world of wine with well over 200 stores here and overseas, Majestic has continued to build on its reputation this year with meticulous attention the the consumer market. 

From capitalising on vegan wines to the rise of English expressions and even bolstering its own-label range, Majestic has stayed ahead of the curve, and you only need look at the retailer’s sales performance to know that it’s working. The company is well on its way to hitting £500 million in sales by next year.

The judges singled our winner out for “fighting its way out of some difficult years with a new buying team that is receptive to new trends.” Despite reshuffling the buying team with a new head buyer last year and a managing director in january, Majestic has managed to continue its transformation and diversify its appeal to consumers, particularly with Majestic loves — the new own-label range designed for approachability. That’s why The Drinks Business’ retail buying team of 2017 has to be Majestic.

Special commendation

Waitrose

Our runner up was chosen for their consistent attention to “nurturing their staff, and achieving so much, while continuing to innovate.” From magnums to low-ABV, there is little Waitrose hasn’t done this year to shake up what grocers can offer in the drinks category, and it appears to be doing the trick.  In June last year, the retailer reported that gin sales surpassed those of all other spirits, rising by 20% year-on-year. Since then, Waitrose has more than doubled its range of local and regional varieties, even and even became the first UK store to stock gin from Japan last February.  Congratulations to Waitrose, which has been keeping its finger on the pulse of the industry all year.

Shortlist

Aldi
• Majestic
• Master of Malt
• Waitrose

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