NOffLA developed the awards, now in their 18th year, to recognise and showcase those off-licences around the country offering exceptional service to customers and demonstrating excellence in retail standards.
“The last few years have been very difficult for the off-licence sector,” said NOffLA Chairperson Evelyn Jones, speaking at the awards, “Two severe excise duty hikes have hit the sector very hard and as a direct result a number of businesses have closed and jobs been lost. Fourteen businesses have closed in total since January 2013.
“On top of that, we’ve seen an increase in cross-border shopping and a rise in illicit trade. Government must understand that excise is not the answer and instead focus on bringing forward the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill which we hope will properly regulate the sector.
“The awards highlight however 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”, she said.
The Molloy Group in Dublin won the ‘Responsible Retailer of the Year’ while Judith Boyle of Next Door @ J Boyles in Market Square, Kildare, won the ‘RTC Online Trainee of the Year’.
In addition, all 40 finalists were awarded certificates of either ‘Standard’, ‘Merit’ or ‘Excellence’ based on their performance.
Other awards on the night included:
· Specialist Off-Licence Group of the Year – O’Donovan’s, Cork
· Best First Time Entrant – Blackrock Cellar, Dublin
· Food Retailer Off-Licence of the Year – Shiel’s Londis Plus in Malahide
· Customer Service Award of the Year – Martin’s Off-Licence, Fairview
· Spirit Specialist of the Year – Mitchell & Son Wine Merchants, CHQ Building
· Beer Specialist of the Year – Baggot Street Wines, Dublin 4
· Wine Specialist of the Year – Jus de Vine, Portmarnock
· Munster Off-Licence of the Year – World Wide Wines, Waterford
· Connaught/Ulster Off-Licence of the Year – McCambridge’s, Galway
· Leinster Off-Licence of the Year – The Wine Centre, Kilkenny
· Dublin Off-Licence of the Year – Gibneys Off-Licence, Malahide
Judging for the awards began in June 2013, 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.