The pair have been veterans of this competition pretty much since its inception 17 years ago and finally won through to a standing ovation from their peers in the off-licence trade.
The Wine Centre in Kilkenny took the award for ‘Responsible Retailer of the Year’ while the ‘RTC Online Trainee of the Year’ went to Alex Markin of O’Brien’s in Clontarf, County Dublin.
In all, the National Off-Licence Association presented 13 Awards for excellence at its annual ‘Off-Licence of the Year Awards 2013′. The awards, which have been running for 17 years, were developed by NOffLA to recognise and showcase the off-licences around the country that offer exceptional service to customers and demonstrate excellence in retail standards.
“The last number of years – and particularly 2012 – have been very difficult for the off-licence sector,” commented NOffLA Chairperson Evelyn Jones, “It’s been the toughest environment that this industry has ever found itself in,” she added referring to the loss of Roisin Shortall as Junior Minister for Health (for whom she’d had great hopes), the excise increase in the Budget and the ongoing damage being done to the independent off-trade by the multiples.
The NOffLA Chairman suggested that everyone should take it upon themselves to lobby their local TDs to do something to counter the ongoing spread of the multiples and their practice of below-cost selling which was destroying the trade.
“ It hasn’t been an easy year for the industry so our members have really had to raise the bar and get a better understanding of exactly what the customer wants. It’s evident from the judges’ feedback that they have been doing just that,” she said.
“What these awards demonstrate is that even in the toughest operating environments our members can maintain the highest standards when responsibly retailing alcohol and never fail to offer the best service to customers.
“Our members are trained specialists in responsibly retailing alcohol, thanks to our Responsible Trading Certificate training programme. NOffLA took a leadership role in creating, developing and implementing this innovative cost-friendly programme which has benefited our Association and also the general public. We believe that any person retailing alcohol should be adequately trained to do so, as is the case in other sectors.”
Other awards on the night included:
· Specialist Off-Licence Group of the Year 2013 – O’Donovan’s, Cork
· Best First Time Entrant 2013 – Desmonds, Next Door, Raheen, Limerick
· Food Retailer Off-Licence of the Year 2013 – Shield’s Londis, Malahide
· Customer Service Award of the Year 2013 – Donnybrook Fair, Dublin
· Spirit Specialist of the Year 2013 – Redmonds Off-Licence, Ranelagh
· Beer Specialist of the Year 2013 – Baggott Street Wines, Dublin
· Wine Specialist of the Year 2013 – Deveney’s Rathmines
· Munster Off-Licence of the Year 2013 – World Wide Wines, Waterford
· Connaught/Ulster Off-Licence of the Year 2013 – Dicey Reilly’s Off-Licence, Ballyshannon
· Leinster Off-Licence of the Year 2013 – The Wine Centre, Kilkenny
· Dublin Off-Licence of the Year 2013 – Gibneys Off-Licence, Malahide.
Judging for the awards began in June 2012 which was the beginning of a tough but rewarding journey for all of this year’s award-winners. The process culminated in a blind wine tasting which involved participants answering questions about the unidentified wines. Final awards were allocated following this process.
All 41 finalists were awarded certificates of either ‘Standard’, ‘Merit’ or ‘Excellence’ based on their performance.