The DRAs are the drinks trade’s biggest annual highlight, bringing together the leading lights in retail and rewarding the greatest innovators. Competition was fierce as the awards received a record number of entries, but a rigorous judging process eventually named 21 overall winners.
Aldi scooped three awards including Best Supermarket, stealing the crown from Waitrose, which had won the major prize for five years in a row prior to this year’s event. Aldi also scooped Multiple Wine Retailer of the Year and Drinks Buying Team of the Year after growing sales exponentially, shaking up the drinks retailing market and unearthing a host of drinks that have won over shoppers.
Waitrose still enjoyed a strong showing, taking home awards for the best multiple cider retailer and best multiple Champagne retailer.
Sainsbury’s was honoured as the UK’s best multiple beer retailer, while Morrisons took home the spirits gong.
The awards also celebrate the very best independent retailers in the trade. London-based We Brought Beer was named newcomer of the year and best independent beer retailer for its innovative and fresh approach to beer retailing, while Le Vignoble took the converted independent wine retailer prize seeing off extremely intense competition, having created a truly exceptional shopping space for Plymouth’s wine lovers.
Ian Harris, managing director at the Wine & Spirit Education Trust, was given the Lifetime Achievement Award, celebrating a diverse career including building the WSET to be the biggest organisation of its kind in the world, offering education and qualifications in the field of wines and spirits in more than 600 centres across 64 countries.
Martin Green, editor at Off Licence News magazine, which runs the awards, said: “Victory for Aldi at the Drinks Retailing Awards is indicative of the changing face of the UK retail market. Aldi has been winning praise from across the industry for winning over shoppers with a sharp, focused drinks range that has a clear pricing system. Its shelves are easy to shop, void of dozens of half-price deals and full of value-for-money gems that have taken international competitions by storm.
“It is growing sales faster than any retailer in the land, followed closely by Lidl. These retailers have sent the big four grocers into a panic, leading them to cut their ranges and abandon a pricing strategy reliant on money-off deals. Aldi and Lidl are constantly eating away at the market share of the big four, and at the other end of the market Waitrose is going from strength to strength, suggesting shoppers like everyday low prices on offer at Aldi and Lidl but are also happy to splash out on quality drinks at Waitrose, leaving the middle of the market squeezed.
“The Drinks Retailing Awards’ judging process is known to be the most rigorous in the industry, and it was a very close call, with Aldi, Lidl and Waitrose all excelling. We are already looking forward to battle lines being drawn for next year’s awards. We know the major grocers will come out swinging in 2016, and it will be fascinating to see how the market develops in the next 12 months.
“While the big retailers fight it out and cull ranges, the UK’s wonderful independent wine merchants, spirits specialists and beer shops have emerged as the go-to places for discerning drinks lovers. The quality of nominees was better than ever this year, and it is fantastic to see how healthy this sector of the market is.”
Here is a full list of winners:
Convenience Drinks Retailer of the Year
Eat 17, Hackney
Independent Beer Retailer of the Year
We Brought Beer
Independent Champagne Retailer of the Year
Independent Cider Retailer of the Year
Green Valley Cyder
Independent Drinks Retailer of the Year
South Downs Cellars
Independent Spirits Retailer of the Year
Independent Wine Retailer of the Year
Newcomer of the Year
We Brought Beer
Small Chain of the Year
Cambridge Wine Merchants
Green / Ethical Retailer of the Year
Innovation of the Year
Online Retailer of the Year
The Whisky Exchange
Multiple Specialist Retailer of the Year
Supermarket of the Year
Multiple Beer Retailer of the Year
Multiple Cider Retailer of the Year
Drinks Wholesaler of the Year
Gordon & MacPhail
Multiple Champagne Retailer of the Year
Multiple Wine Retailer of the Year
Multiple Spirits Retailer of the Year
Drinks Buying Team of the Year
Ian Harris, Wine & Spirit Education Trust