NOffLA Speaks: Knowledge is power

As the customer becomes more knowledgeable and demands higher levels of service, it's a worthwhile for off-licence owners to invest in the WSET Diploma

The Gold Star Awards, introduced in 2001 as part of NOffLA’s Irish Wine Show, have been a major marketing success over the past six years and look likely to repeat that success for 2009/10. This success is founded on the ability of qualified NOffLA members to select the very best wines from the hundreds made available from suppliers.

The Gold Star Award has earned a significant level of credibility with consumers since its inception. Consumers recognise this mark as a mark of quality, an assurance from NOffLA members that these wines are better than the rest.

It is this ability to assure and advise consumers on the quality of our products that distinguishes NOffLA outlets from other alcohol retailers. This distinction continues to gain importance as competition in the off-licence sector grows and changes in licensing legislation broaden the availability of alcohol at a retail level.

Consumers visiting an off-licence expect more than to be able to purchase a particular product. They expect guidance and advice. It is the provision of guidance and advice that will prompt a consumer to return to a particular off-licence time and again.

Sadly, although most NOffLA members would acknowledge the importance of education and training in the trade, a growing but only relatively small number of NOffLA members were qualified to join the panel of judges for the Gold Star Awards this year. These were those members who hold the WSET Diploma or Higher Diploma.

As our customers have become more knowledgeable about wine, it behoves NOffLA members to increase their standards to maintain the professionalism of the trade.

The WSET Diploma is not easily achieved and is a long-term commitment. However, this level of expertise should be at the core of our business. NOffLA members should regard holding the WSET Diploma in the same way as they would insist on having an essential piece of equipment for their business.

NOffLA members are encouraged to maintain their professionalism by formalising their knowledge through achieving the WSET Diploma. As a recognised qualification of high standing, it is a genuine asset for an off-licence business.


Dates for your diary

6    All Ireland Hurling Final, Croke Park
13 – 19    Listowel Racing Festival
14    Start of round two of Off-Licence Awards
29    Irish Wine Show 2010

9    End of round two of Off-Licence Awards
26    Public holiday



If you have any queries regarding NOffLA membership or services, please contact our Administrator, Reggie Walsh, at Block D, Unit 6, Nutgrove Office Park, Rathfarnham, Dublin 14, on 01 – 296 2326, by fax on 01 – 296 2451 or by email at info@noffla.ie. The NOffLA web site can be found at www.noffla.ie

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