Hat trick for Gibney’s

They say third time’s a charm and charmed indeed was the moment for Siobhan Gibney as she accepted the award for Off-Licence of the Year for the third time.

The winner of the Off-Licence of the Year Award 2010 is Gibney’s of Malahide, a hat trick for Siobhan Gibney who received the award for the third time, having done so previously in 2009 and 2005. Siobhan Gibney’s passion for the off-trade first found expression 10 years after she married Tony Gibney, whose primary interest lies with the on-trade where he has been the proprietor of Gibneys of Malahide for over 30 years.

Although new to the off-trade when she took over the outlet in 1995, Siobhan had been managing Gibney’s Video Bar in the premises next door and had, prior to her marriage, been the manager of the Marine Hotel in Sutton. The Gibney family have a long history of association with the licenced trade in north county Dublin. The pub in Malahide is now in its fifth generation of family ownership, whilst a previous generation had a hotel in Howth.

Specialist and Regional

A central theme of the awards is in acknowledging and encouraging standards of excellence in a wide variety of aspects of the retail off-trade. This includes standards of excellence in a particular area, be that a geographic area or an area of specialisation.

The three Specialist awards, focussing on excellence within specific product ranges, were presented to: Deveney’s, Dundrum, Dublin (Spirits specialist award, sponsored by Smirnoff); McHugh’s Off Licence, Malahide Road, Dublin (Beer specialist award, sponsored by Budweiser); and The Vintry, Rathgar, Dublin (Wines specialist award, sponsored by Faustino).

The 2010 four regional awards, sponsored by Hennessy Cognac, were presented to: Dicey’s Bottle Store, Ballyshannon, Co Donegal (Connaught/Ulster), Barry’s Off-Licence, Ballinacurra, Cork (Munster), Holland’s Fine Wines, Bray, Co Wicklow (Leinster) and Jus de Vine, Portmarnock (Dublin).

The 2010 awards also included an award for the Specialist Off-Licence Group, which was sponsored by Wyndham Estate Wines and awarded to O’Donovan’s of Cork. The winner of the 2010 Food Retailer Off-Licence of the Year, sponsored by the National Off-Licence Association, is Donnybrook Fair, Dublin, and the Best First-time Entrant for 2010, also sponsored by NOffLA, is Next Door @ The Square, Kilrush, Co Clare.

The awards initiative, now in its 14th year, is one of the major highlights of the drinks industry calendar. It was established to reward standards of excellence in the independent off-licence sector and promotes excellence in retail standards. That success is very evident to anyone familiar with today’s independent off-trade in Ireland.

Highest standard

According to NOffLA chairman Jim McCabe, who presented the awards, the standard of this year’s participants has been the highest to date.

“The standard this year really has been outstanding, particularly with regards to product knowledge and customer service. 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.”

Jim McCabe also pointed to the importance of this recognition of quality within the drinks sector and for the consumer: “The Awards are well recognised by industry and by the general public so will go a long way to demonstrating the quality offered by our finalists.”

The role of the awards scheme was best expressed by NOffLA’s administrator, Reggie Walsh: “Tonight’s celebrations are a well-earned tribute to all our members who have demonstrated their commitment to adopting best practice as their motto, by putting their names forward for this important awards competition. The very fact of entering this competition is proof of the aspirations of growing numbers of members each year to invite critical assessment of their performance and to put their expertise to the test.”

Increasingly challenging

Judging for the awards has become increasingly challenging in recent years, as the standard of entrant has soared and outlets vie for first place. The judging process runs over six months, with this year’s first round having started in July 2009 with the selection of the best outlets across the country. Marks were awarded for overall appearance, customer service, hygiene, product range and product knowledge. The second stage of the awards saw the identification of those who would receive certificates of merit or excellence. The final round, held at Dublin’s Kings Inns, included a blind-tasting test conducted by Lievan Vanhoutte of Gilbeys of Ireland.

Awards adjudicators

NOffLA would like to express their thanks to the three judges who assessed the outlets who entered the Off-Licence of the Year for 2010.

Fiona Keane is an architect and has lectured for a number of years in interior design on the BA design course at the Dublin Institute of Technology. She holds a Certificate from IGS and WSET, the Higher Certificate of WSET, and is currently studying for the WSET Diploma. Fiona has adjudicated the National Tidy Towns competition for Bord Fáilte and is currently an external examiner for the University of Wales.

Mary Dowey is one of Ireland’s leading wine writers. She was wine correspondent of The Irish Times from 1995 to 2005, writes about food and has contributed to the Weekend section of The Times and Decanter in the UK, and Bon Appetit in the US. Mary is currently wine editor of The Gloss. She lectures on wine in Dublin and runs intensive wine courses at the world-renowned Ballymaloe Cookery School.

Joe Coyle is the proprietor of Wine Pulse, a provider of wine-related services, including education and training, range and stock management, and marketing. Joe was sales manager for Gilbeys of Ireland from 2006 to 2009, where he had responsibility for on and off-trade sales in the greater Dublin region. In addition to his direct sales responsibilities, Joe delivered sales and customer service training courses for Diageo and Gilbeys. He previously worked as general manager of Novum Wines in the UK, an importation and distribution business. Prior to that, Joe worked for Oddbins from 1986 to 2003, finishing his time there as commercial director.

Thank You!

Of the many subjects mentioned at the final of this year’s awards, ‘thank you’ was high on everyone’s list. NOffLA’s chairman Jim McCabe and administrator Reggie Walsh expressed their heartfelt thanks to the three judges, Joe Coyle, Mary Dowey and Fiona Keane. Also on the receiving end of much gratitude was Lievan Vanhoutte of Gilbeys, who conducted the blind tasting at the finals.

The support of the event’s sponsors was described as “a source of great encouragement” to members of the National Off-Licence Association. Reggie Walsh expressed particular thanks to the following people: Lynda Cody of Irish Distillers Pernod Ricard (Wyndham Estate); Aidan Mahon and Frank O’Hanlon of Diageo Ireland (Smirnoff & Budweiser); Terry Pennington and his time at Gilbeys (Faustino); Kevin Behan of Edward Dillon & Company (Hennessy Cognac).

Reggie Walsh completed her thanks in saying: “I would like to extend to you all and to the members of our National Executive best wishes for the year ahead and to the winners again – heartiest congratulations from all of us.”

Finalists’ roll of honour

The final phase of this year’s competition had a broader representation from across the country than in previous years; 16 counties throughout the four provinces were represented amongst the 56 finalists:

• Barrys Off-Licence, Ballinacurra
• Corcorans, New Ross
• Deveney’s Off-Licence, Dundrum
• Deveney’s Off-Licence, Rathmines
• Dicey’s Bottle Store, Ballyshannon
• Donnybrook Fair, Dublin 4
• Galvins Carry Out, Carrigaline
• Gibney’s Off-Licence, Malahide
• Holland’s Fine Wines, Bray
• Jus de Vine, Portmarnock
• Keller’s Off-Licence, Roscrea
• Kelly’s Wine Vault, Clontarf
• Matson’s Wine Store, Bandon
• McCabe’s Off-Licence, Blackrock
• McCambridges of Galway Ltd.
• McHugh’s Off-Licence, Kilbarrack
• McHugh’s Off-Licence, Malahide Road.
• Next Door @ Myles’ Creek
• Next Door @ the Square, Kilrush
• Next Door, Enfield
• O’Donovans, Mallow
• O’Donovans, Bandon
• O’Donovans, Ballincollig
• Portlaoise Wine Vault Ltd.
• Redmonds Off-Licence, Ranelagh
• Sheils of Dorset Street
• Shiel’s Malahide
• Sweeneys Wine Merchants, Harts Corner
• The Vintry, Rathgar
• The Wine Centre, Kilkenny
• Barry Collins SuperValu, Carrigaline
• Bin No. 9, Goatstown
• Carry Out Ashtown
• Carry Out Tyrrelstown
• Castle Off-Licence, Tralee
• Cheers Take Home, The Silver Granite
• Fine Wines Roches Street
• Joyces Supermarket Athenry
• Joyces Supermarket Knocknacarra
• Keller’s Off-Licence, Nenagh
• Kings Off-Licence, Delgany
• Martins Off-Licence, Fairview
• Mitchell & Son, The CHQ
• O’Connor’s Next Door, Wicklow
• Reddy’s Off-Licence, Waterford
• Samuel C. Cope Ltd, Castledermot
• Shevlins Off-Licence, Rathfarnham
• The Comet (Cheers), Santry
• Whelan’s Off-Licence, Wexford Street.
• Carry Out Mulhuddart
• Caseys Centra, Roscommon
• Esso Pottery Service Station,
Rochestown Avenue
• Fine Wines Blackpool Retail Park
• Fine Wines Showgrounds S.C.
• Lonergan Off-Licence, Clonmel
• Wineways, Monaghan

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