By Andy Young

Last Friday night saw around 400 liquor retailers, suppliers, representatives and key industry stakeholders gather in Sydney for the 20th annual Retail Liquor Industry Awards for Excellence Presentation Dinner at the Sofitel Sydney Wentworth.

As well as recognising the top retailers, suppliers and representatives across NSW and the ACT, LSA NSW | ACT Executive Director Michael Waters also revealed the details of the mystery shop component for all nominated stores. That element assesses the overall customer shopping experience, including testing each store’s regulatory compliance and adherence to the industry’s ID-25 policy, and Waters told attendees, this year saw a strong result.

“I am pleased to say the results this year were the best we have seen in five years,” Waters said. We are lifting our game, and we are heading in the right direction. Industry is capable of self-regulation, but with the end of school year and busy festive trading period almost upon us, there is no room for complacency.”

The night then moved onto the award winners with a number of liquor store, supplier and representative categories.

The Regional Liquor Store of the Year award went to BWS Ettalong, while Cellarbrations at Stockland Baulkham Hills was named as the Metropolitan Liquor Store of the Year. The New Liquor Store of the Year award was given to Cutty Cellars Crows Nest and Online Liquor Store of the Year was named as Vinomofo. 

Cellarbrations at Gunnedah was named as the NSW Liquor Store of the Year.

It proved to be a successful night for Cellarbrations with further awards going to the store in Tamworth for Excellence in Customer Service, while Benjamin Abraham of Cellarbrations at Warilla was named as the Liquor Store Manager of the Year. The group was also named as the Banner Group of the Year.

Further store awards went to Oldfield Cellars West Gosford, for Excellence in Innovation and Ross Rocca of Midway Cellars was named as the Liquor Store Owner of the Year.

In the supplier categories, Coopers Premium Beverages was named Beer Supplier of the Year, De Bortoli Wines the Wine Supplier of the Year, and for the third consecutive year, Pernod Ricard Australia the Spirits Supplier of the Year.

Finn Foster APB was named Services Supplier of the Year, Australian Liquor Marketers took out the Liquor Wholesaler of the Year award, and Banner Group of the Year was Cellarbrartions.

Beer Representative of the Year went to Trish Hardy (Coopers Premium Beverages), Joanne Bennett (Treasury Wine Estates) was named Wine Representative of the Year, and Ami Sheehan (Pernod Ricard Australia) was named Spirits Representative of the Year.

“This is the first time that we have seen women take out all three supplier sales representative of the year awards, and we honestly couldn’t be more pleased to see the girls take out the trifecta," added Mr Waters.

The night also saw newly elected President Paul Heilman speak to attendees about some of the challenges he sees ahead in his new role.

“It makes it very difficult to kick a goal if you don’t know where the goal posts are,” Heilman said.

“The rhetoric has well and truly shifted from ‘risk-based’ liquor licensing, to a ‘user pays’ system, with the NSW Liquor Industry contributing over $10 million in licence fees per annum.

“So, over a year since the Liquor & Gaming Reform was announced, many in the industry, including myself, are scratching our heads wondering when we can expect to be operating within a regulatory environment that has efficient licensing processes, enhanced transparency and improved service quality.

“The Association is committed and ready to continue working collaboratively with Government and all applicable agencies, to ensure that the playing field is well groomed, goal posts set, all players understand and play by the rules and the referees are on their game and are not wasting time by sending straight forward licensing decisions to the bunker for a decision – let’s get on with it.”

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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