Waitrose was named supermarket of the year at the Decanter Retailer Awards in London. The Co-op Group’s Beer Wine and Spirits team were runners up in the same category.
The Wine Society, a co-operative dating back to 1874, has also been awarded the Outstanding Wine Retailer of the Year, referred to as “the best of the best award”. The society offers members a choice of 1,500 wines.
“Top buyers, great wines, good value, impeccable service, constant improvement and a real sense of community. It doesn’t get much better,” commented the judges.
Now in their 23rd year, the awards aim to celebrate the best wine retailers. The winners were selected by a judging panel chaired by wine writer, TV presenter and Master of Wine, Peter Richards.
The judges described Waitrose as a retailer “back on form”, adding that it had “a focused buying team, an impressive range, excellent customer engagement and on-going improvements and innovation”.
Waitrose also won in two other categories. The employee owned retailer took home the England and Wales Specialist of the Year category for championing local wines in its stores and planting a vineyard and making its own Hampshire fizz. It was also named the Fortified and Sweet Specialist of the Year retailer for its “outstanding range of fortified and sweet wines”.
On the Co-op Group, the judging panel said: “Co-op deserved recognition for its ‘underrated’ range, ethical sourcing policy and accessible approach.”
Beer, wine and spirit sales were up 4.8% at the Co-op, which has continued to expand its range of Fairtrade wines from South Africa and also introduced its first Lebanese Faortrade wine. The retailer also started selling two wines from Bulgaria, in an attempt to source good value wines at a time of poor harvest in countries like France and Italy.
Simon Cairns, category trading manager at Co-op says: “It’s an absolute honour to be recognised at these awards and is testament to the dedication of the team to provide the very best drink ranges in a truly convenient setting.
“The team is committed in delivering an outstanding BWS range that is intrinsically linked to what our members and customers need, want and care about; marrying an award-winning own-label range that works in harmony with brands and our regional and local offering. We’ll certainly drink to that.”