IWSC’s Drinks Supermarket of the Year Awards

IWSC news

Tue 30 Apr 2024

By Kristen Dougall

Introducing the inaugural IWSC Drinks Supermarket of the Year Awards – the gold standard of excellence in large-scale drinks retailing

The IWSC is the oldest drinks competition in the world. During its 55 years, the brand has built a respected global drinks community, that is at the heart of this ever-changing industry. The IWSC is excited to launch its inaugural awards dedicated to the supermarket sector. These awards are designed to not only spotlight exemplary achievements but also to celebrate those supermarkets that stand as pivotal partners within the drinks industry, propelling both growth and innovation.

The IWSC’s new recognition program will provide a holistic evaluation of supermarkets' alcoholic beverage offerings, inclusive of non-alcoholic alternatives, reflecting the diversity and evolving preferences of consumers.

The IWSC has put together a stellar panel of judges who have been recruited for their significant experience in the supermarket sector:

  • Cat Lomax has held prominent buying and senior trading roles across key premium wine retailers in the UK market, with an illustrious career spanning renowned establishments such as Laithwaites, Waitrose, Majestic, and most recently Marks & Spencer.
  • Anne Jones has worked in the wine and spirits industry since 2008, most recently she was the Category Manager for Wines, Beers and Spirits at Waitrose, before moving to the company’s Drinks Experience position.
  • David Kermode is a prolific contributor to leading publications such as The Buyer and Club Oenologique and a familiar face on television and BBC radio, where he shares his passion and knowledge, captivating listeners with his engaging discussions about wine and spirits.
  • Ivan Dixon began his career in independent wine retail before moving to Harvey Nichols to work as an Assistant Buyer, and then moving to the position of Head Spirits Buyer. During his time at Harvey Nichols, Ivan developed a highly successful own-label range under the HN guise.

IWSC judge Ivan Dixon expressed,I'm completely thrilled to be working with the IWSC on this hugely exciting project. I am positive that the thorough structure will become a new standard when it comes to retail business judging. Never has a retail competition drilled down so deep into aspects of the customer journey, product range, positive innovation and overall departmental approach, taking every aspect of the overall shopping experience into consideration. The results and findings will hopefully prove an indispensable reference tool for consumers to utilise, assisting with decision making regarding where to shop for wines, spirits and low alcohol alternatives.”

The evaluation criteria are meticulously crafted to gauge how effectively supermarkets respond to consumer trends, foster constructive relationships with suppliers, and uphold sustainability. This multifaceted approach ensures that our awards will commend supermarkets that excel beyond sales figures, making a significant, positive impact on the development and thriving of the entire drinks industry.

Each judge will be assigned a number of drinks supermarkets, employing the IWSC’s 6-Part Judging Framework:

  1. Range, quality and innovation
  2. Commercial performance and strategy
  3. In-store experience
  4. Online experience
  5. Trade and consumer engagement
  6. Extra, value-add services

By conducting interviews with Buying teams, going through websites with a fine-tooth comb and carrying out ‘secret shopper’ visits, our judges will share a deep dive into the evolving trends and strategic directions of participating supermarkets. The IWSC Drinks Supermarket Awards aim to set the gold standard of excellence in large-scale drinks retailing; a UK consumer will be able to use these awards when selecting which supermarket to frequent for a best-in-class drinks retail experience.

Supermarkets will be split into the following categories, with judges choosing a winner within each category, plus an overall winner that will be named the IWSC’s 2025 Outstanding Drinks Supermarket of the Year:

  • Classic Supermarkets                                          
  • Convenience Supermarkets
  • Discounters
  • Regional/Specialist Supermarkets
  • Online Supermarkets
  • Rapid Grocery Delivery Category

Additionally, a Sustainable Supermarket award will be granted to a supermarket that has gone above and beyond in their quest to minimise their carbon footprint and improve their environmental credentials.

IWSC’s CEO, Christelle Guibert shares,“The IWSC has been rewarding excellence in drinks for over 55 years. An IWSC medal offers consumers reassurance of quality in drinks, but we wanted to take our expertise one step further and hold drinks retailers under the microscope. “Wine, spirits, knowledge, community” is our strapline, we are in a privileged position to impart our knowledge and judging expertise to better inform our community, consumers, on the best supermarkets for their drinks needs.”

Following months of meticulous judging, the results of the Drinks Supermarket of the Year Awards will be announced at the start of 2025, along with a comprehensive report on the IWSC website, ranking each supermarket within the 6 areas of our judging framework.