FOR the second year running, Waitrose has been awarded the prestigious title ‘Retailer of the Year’ by the International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC).
Sponsored by leading independent wine importer PLB, the title celebrates innovation in retailing wines and spirits, as well as the quality of the supermarket’s range.
The supermarket, which has won the title three times overall, triumphed over a shortlist including Aldi , Asda, Lidl, Sainsbury’s and Tesco.
The trophy was presented at the IWSC’s annual banquet in London’s historic Guildhall last night <November 14> – a glittering event attended by more than 450 wine and spirit aficionados from around the world.
Waitrose’s spirits-buying team, headed by Herchelle Perez Terrado, also won the accolade ‘Retail Spirit Buyer of the Year,’ while the title ‘Retail Wine Buyer of the Year’ went to Tesco’s wine-buying team, headed by Laura Jewell MW, James Griswood and Graham Nash.
Judges praised the retailer saying: “It comes as little surprise to see Waitrose take this title for the second year in a row. The supermarket continues to impress not just for outstanding range, staff expertise and consumer engagement initiatives, but for the way in which it continues to raise the bar every year.”
Judges were impressed by a series of innovations including the relaunch of its own-label offer, its first Brandy Showcase and Rum Renaissance promotional events, the creation of its Piggy Bank charity wine label, and most recently, the introduction of Waitrose TV.
Pierpaolo Petrassi MW, Waitrose’s Head of Beer Wines and Spirits, said: “We're incredibly proud to be recognised as Retailer of the Year by the IWSC. It's a reflection of all of the work put in by Partners across the entire business to uphold qualities of value, quality, customer engagement and service. The IWSC is a highly prestigious competition, and winning this award helps to show customers that they can expect the very best from our wines and spirits range.”
The retailer also impressed with promotional initiatives to encourage customers to trade up or explore its range including its “If you like... you’ll love...” recommendations and its inaugural Rum Renaissance and Brandy Showcase, which helped the retailer achieve a 63% uplift in brandy sales.
The strength of the Waitrose’s wine-buying team, which includes three Masters of Wine, also stood out – bolstered by more than 300 in-store BWS specialists with WSET qualifications.
Social responsibility initiatives, including community support projects in South Africa through the Waitrose Foundation, were also praised.
2012 also saw the launch of the retailer’s six-strong Piggy Bank range which sees 50p from each bottle sold donated to charities chosen by Waitrose customers, the scheme raised £30,000 in two months.
Judges were also impressed by Waitrose’s ongoing efforts to champion English wine and spirit producers, as well as the use of high-profile personalities such as Olly Smith.