THE Co-operative Group has won the "Retailer of the Year ? Innovation" award at the wine world's biggest competition, the International Wine Challenge.
The Group received the award in recognition of its pioneering work to develop and promote Fairtrade wine.
It is the first time the society has received an IWC Merchant of the Year award and is a reflection of the Movement's commitment to campaigning for Fairtrade wine since it introduced the UK's first supermarket own-brand fairly-traded wine ? Co-op Fair Trade Chilean CarmenÃ¨re ? in 2001.
The Co-op Group wine team has dedicated time and resources to developing its Fairtrade wine range, which includes seven exclusive Co-op wines, and the first Fairtrade marked wine ? Thandi Chardonnay from South Africa.
Two of these ? Co-op Fairtrade Cape Affinity and Co-op Fairtrade Chilean CarmenÃ¨re ? also received "Seals of Approval" at the IWC.
Kay Wheelton, Head of category buying for beers, wines and spirits at the Co-operative Group, said: "We are delighted that our work on Fairtrade wine has been recognised by the IWC, as this will further the cause of Fairtrade."
She added: "In addition to the awards for Fairtrade, 15 wines, which are either Co-op own-label or exclusively stocked by the Co-op, received bronze or silver awards, together with many other branded wines stocked by us.
"The award of IWC ?Best Value Red Under £ 5' to the Boulders Petit Sirah 2002, which is exclusive to the Co-op, was particularly pleasing. All in all, it was a very successful event for our wine category team."
In addition, another 100 medals and "Seals of Approval" were won by branded and own-label wines in the Co-op range.
Pictured… Paul Bastard (left), wine development manager for the Co-operative Group, receives the IWC award from Charles Metcalfe, associate editor, Wine International.