3 February 2016
By Bryan T. Smyth
Three Cork off-licences have won three awards at the National Off-Licence Association (NOffLA) 2016 Annual Off-Licence Awards. The ceremony took place at the Honorable Society of King’s Inns, Dublin. The association also called on the Government to move swiftly and introduce the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill.
Now in their twentieth year, the awards recognise and showcase excellence in the off-licence sector. The awards highlight those retailers that offer exceptional service to customers and demonstrate excellence in retail standards. The winners of the awards were:
· Specialist Off-Licence Group of the Year 2016 – The O’Donovan Group, Cork.
· Customer Service Award of the Year 2016 – O’Donovans, Ballincollig.
· Munster Off-Licence of the Year 2016 – Number 21, Midleton.
Speaking at the awards, NOffLA Chairman, Gary O’Donovan said, “The annual awards showcase the expertise of the independent off-licence sector, recognising the personal service and high quality products offered by our highly trained members.”
“As responsible independent retailers, NOffLA welcomes the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill as it ensures the highest standards around the purchase and consumption of alcohol. The introduction of minimum unit-pricing and affordable structural separation will ensure that alcohol is retailed responsibly. We urge the Government to progress the Bill through its various legislative stages so its benefits can be realised in communities across the country.
“However, we believe that in order for minimum unit pricing to be truly effective, the Government needs to introduce a ban on the below invoice cost selling of alcohol. The promotion of branded discounted alcohol is used as a means to drive footfall into multiples to sell other more expensive grocery products and actively encourages irresponsible retailing which is a threat to the broader community through alcohol abuse and anti-social behaviour.”
“As we celebrate the best that the industry has to offer, it is also important to remember that independent businesses are still operating in very challenging circumstances despite the much talked about economic recovery. Excise duty levels were introduced during the economic crisis as an emergency measure and we are still paying for it today. This needs to be addressed if we are to play our part and fully contribute to and partake of the ongoing recovery.”
Judging for the awards began in June 2015 with the ongoing judging process culminating in a blind wine tasting which involved participants answering questions about the unidentified wines. Final awards were allocated following this process.