Martin Maloney gives a comprehensive overview of all of this year's winners at the prestigious National Off-Licence of the Year Awards
The winner of the Off-Licence of the Year Award 2012 was Redmond’s of Ranelagh on Dublin’s south side. Although this is the first time that Redmond’s has won the overall award, the outlet has been a supporter of the awards scheme since its inception.
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, focusing on excellence within each product range were presented to The Wine Centre, Kilkenny (Specialist Winner, Spirits, sponsored by Absolut Vodka); McHugh’s Off Licence, Malahide Road, Dublin (Specialist Winner, Beer, sponsored by Budweiser); Gibney’s Off-Licence, Malahide, Co Dublin (Specialist Winner, Wines, sponsored by Faustino).
The 2012 four regional awards, sponsored by Hennessy Cognac, were presented to McCambridge’s of Galway (Connaught/ Ulster), O’Donovan’s Off-Licence, Riverside S. C., Midleton (Munster), Holland’s Fine Wines, Bray, Co Wicklow (Leinster) and Jus de Vine (Dublin).
The 2012 award for the Specialist Off-Licence Group, was sponsored by Wyndham Estate Wines and presented to O’Donovan’s of Cork. The winner of the 2012 Food Retailer Off-Licence of the Year, sponsored by Lorina Lemonade, is Sameul C Cope of Castledermot and the Best First-time Entrant for 2012, sponsored by Tiger Beer, is Next Door Sundrive Road, Crumlin, Dublin. The 2012 Customer Service Award, sponsored by El Coto, went to Martin’s Off-Licence in Fairview, Dublin.
Underlining the importance of responsible retailing, this year’s awards included two awards related to NOffLA’s Responsible Trading in the Community scheme. The RTC Online Trainee of the Year 2012, which was sponsored by Enovation Solutions, was presented to Rachel Rowan of Mulhall’s Londis Off-Licence in Portlaoise, while the RTC Responsible Retailer of the Year 2012 is O’Brien’s Carry Out, Mulhudarrart, Dublin.
The awards initiative, now in its sixteenth 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.
Product knowledge and customer service
Despite the continuing difficult times in which the industry currently operates, NOffLA chairperson, Evelyn Jones, confirmed that the awards have been of the highest standard 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.”
Evelyn Jones 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.”
Role of awards
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.”
An interesting aspect of the adjudication process introduced last year is the “Mystery Shopper”, where an anonymous shopper put the entrants on the spot to cater for a number of complex shopping requirements. The entire judging process ran over six months, having started at the end of June 2011 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 which put each of the finalists through their paces.
The final phase of this year’s competition had as broad a representation from across the country as any previous year. On top of that, there proved to be only the slimmest of margins between some of those in the final shake-up, clearly demonstrating the high level of professionalism within the independent off-trade in Ireland today. Forty-two outlets from throughout the four provinces undertook a process of self-examination in preparation for the adjudication process:
Award of excellence:
:: Cheers Take Home, The Silver Granite, Palmerstown, Dublin 20
:: Deveney’s Off-Licence Rathmines, 16 Upper Rathmines Road, Dublin 6
:: Deveneys Dundrum, 31 Main Street, Dundrum, Dublin 16
:: Dicey’s Reilly’s Off-Licence, Market Street, Ballyshannon, Co. Donegal
:: Gibneys Off-Licence, New Street, Malahide, Co. Dublin
:: Holland’s Fine Wines, 78 Main Street, Bray, Co. Wicklow
:: Jus de Vine, Unit 10, Portmarnock Town Centre, Co. Dublin.
:: Martins Off-Licence, 11 Marino Mart, Fairview, Dublin 3
:: Matson’s Wine Store, 5 Market Place, Bandon, Co. Cork
:: McCabes Wines, 51/55 Mount Merrion Avenue, Blackrock, Co. Dublin
:: McCambridges, 38/39 Shop Street, Galway
:: McHugh’s Off-Licence Kilbarrack Road, 57 Kilbarrack Road, Kilbarrack, Dublin 5
:: McHughs Malahide Road, 25E Malahide Road, Artane, Dublin 5
:: Mitchell & Son, The CHQ building, I.F.S.C., Docklands, Dublin 1
:: Next Door @ Gort Road Shopping Centre, Gort Road, Ennis, Co. Clare
:: Next Door Sundrive Road, 23-25 Sundrive Road, Kimmage, Dublin 12
:: Next Door Swiss Cottage, Next Door Swiss Cottage, Old Swords Road, Santry, Dublin 9
:: O’Connor “Next Door”, Abbey Street, Wicklow
:: O’Donovans Off-Licence, Summerhill North, Cork
:: O’Donovans Off-Licence, 6 Pearce Street, Bandon, Co. Cork
:: O’Donovans Off-Licence, 1 Market Square, Mallow, Co. Cork
:: O’Donovans Off-Licence, 1 Canon O’Leary Place, Cobh, Co. Cork
:: O’Donovans Off-Licence , Grange Hill, Douglas, Cork
:: O’Donovans Off-Licence , Cork Road, Carrigaline, Cork
:: O’Donovans Off-Licence, 6/7 The Quays, Passage West, Co. Cork
:: O’Donovans Off-Licence, 72 Main St, Midleton, Co. Cork
:: O’Donovans Off-Licence, The Exchange House, Main Street, Ballincollig, Co. Cork.
:: O’Donovans Off-Licence, 89 Oliver Plunkett Street, Cork
:: O’Donovans Off-Licence, Looney’s Cross, Bishopstown, Cork
:: O’Donovans Off-Licence, 36 Thomas Davis Street, Blackpool, Cork
:: O’Donovans Off-Licence, Main Street, Douglas East, Cork
:: O’Donovans Off-Licence, 56/57 Shandon Street, Cork
:: O’Donovans Off-Licence, Riversdale S.C., Midleton, Co. Cork
:: O’Donovans Off-Licence, Units 3&4, Mayfield Shopping Centre, Mayfield, Co. Cork
:: Redmonds Off-Licence, Ranelagh, 25 Ranelagh Village, Dublin 6
:: Samuel C. Cope Ltd., Castledermot, Athy, Co. Kildare
:: Shiel’s Londis, Yellow Walls Road, Malahide, Co. Dublin
:: Sweeney’s Wine Merchants, 6 Finglas Road, Harts Corner, Dublin 11
:: The Vintry, 102 Rathgar Road, Dublin 6
:: The Wine Centre Kilkenny, 15 John Street, Kilkenny
:: Whelan’s Off-Licence, 25 Wexford Street, Dublin 2
Award of Merit:
:: Corcorans Next Door, Irishtown, New Ross,
:: Donnybrook Fair, 89/91 Morehampton Road, Donnybrook, Dublin .
:: Galvins Carry Out, Unit 6, Owenabue Mall, Main Street, Carrigaline, Co. Cork
:: Keller’s Off-Licence, Brooklands, Nenagh,
:: Keller’s Off-Licence, Rosemary Square, Roscrea, Co. Tipperary
:: Kelly’s Wine Vault, Vernon Avenue, Clontarf, Dublin 3
:: Kellys Super Valu, Elphin Street, Boyle, Co. Roscommon
:: Next Door @ Myles’ Creek, O’Curry St, Kilkee, Co. Clare
:: Next Door @ the Square, Market Square, Kilrush, Co. Clare
:: Next Door Harolds Cross, 294-298 Harolds Cross Road, Harolds Cross, Dublin 6
:: Sweeneys Off-Licence Ltd., T/a Sweeneys Next Door, 60 Meath Street, Dublin 8
:: Ardkeen Quality Food Store, Dunmore Road, Waterford
:: Joyces Supermarket Athenry, Prospect, Athenry, Co. Galway
:: Joyces Supermarket Knocknacarra, Shangort Road, Knocknacarra, Co. Galway
:: The Pottery Vine Off-Licence, Esso Service Station, Rochestown Avenue, Dun Laoghaire
NOffLA would like to express their thanks to the two judges who assessed the outlets who entered the Off-Licence of the Year for 2012.
Fiona Keane is an architect and has lectured for a number of years in interior design on the B.A. design course at the Dublin Institute of Technology. She holds the Certificate of the IGS, the Certificate W.S.E.T, the Higher Certificate W.S.E.T and is currently studying for the W.S.E.T. Diploma.
Joe Coyle is the proprietor of Wine Pulse, a provider of wine-related services, including education and training, range and stock management, and marketing.
While maintaining the anonymity of the mystery shopper, NOffLA would like to extend its thanks to Reggie Walsh for a very thorough job completed in a suitably undercover manner!
The support of the event’s sponsors was described as “a source of great encouragement” to members of the National Off-Licence Association. Walsh expressed particular thanks to the award sponsors: Diageo Ireland (Budweiser); Edward Dillon & Company (Hennessy Cognac); Enovation Solutions; Gleeson, incorporating Gilbeys (Faustino); Heineken Ireland (Tiger Beer); Irish Distillers Pernod Ricard (Absolute Vodka and Wyndham Estate); Mackenway Distributors (El Coto); Richmond Marketing (Lorina Lemonade).
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.”