The Buyer
Test your restaurant skills in London Wine Fair’s new awards

Test your restaurant skills in London Wine Fair’s new awards

You might have the best palate and tasting skills in the business, but they count for nothing unless you also have the commercial nous to be able to source, identify, negotiate and then ultimately buy the right wines for your restaurant, bar, hotel or pub company. That’s what the new Wine Buyers Awards launched by the London Wine Fair are all about. The Buyer is delighted to partner with this new initiative to recognise and reward the best talent in the on-trade with the specific Restaurant Buyer Award. Here’s how to take part.

Richard Siddle
20th December 2019by Richard Siddle
posted in Insight,

If you think you’ve got what it takes to be a contender in the Restaurant and Wine Bar Buyer category as part of London Wine Fair’s Wine Buyers Awards then read on.

The wine industry is full of awards that recognise the achievements of winemakers, producers and individual wines, but rarely does it throw the full spotlight on those whose job it is to siphon through all the wines in the market to find the most suitable ones for their business.

So full marks goes to the London Wine Fair for establishing the new ‘Wine Buyers Awards’ which promises to do what it says on the tin. Reward the best wine buying talent there is across the UK wine industry. Those individuals that the London Wine Fair believes are helping to shape and drive the industry forward.

The awards have been split into different categories in order to identify the right talent in each main channel of the trade. Buyers will have the chance to enter the following:

  • Restaurant and Wine bar Buyer Award
  • Supermarket & Multiple Retailer Buyer Award
  • Online Specialist Buyer Award
  • Independent Merchant Buyer Award
  • Pub Buyer Award
  • Rising Star Buyer Award – to recognise the achievements of those 35 years and under, operating in any of the five channels.

The Restaurant Buyer Award is being run in partnership with The Buyer and judges will include two of the industry’s stellar names: Martin Lam, restaurateur with over 45 years’ experience and founder of Ransome’s Dock, one of London’s best-loved wine focused restaurants; and Christine Parkinson, a wine and sake specialist, who until recently was group head of wine at Hakkasan. The overall judging process is being organised and headed up by Chris Losh, former editor of Imbibe, and founder of Sommelier Wine Awards.

Christine Parkinson is widely acclaimed as being one of the world’s best restaurant wine buyers

Entry process

Within the Restaurant Buyer category there will be opportunities for those working in different parts of the on-trade to enter. With separate judging and awards given for:
*High Street Chain Buyer (above 30 sites)

  • Restaurant Group Buyer (two to 29 sites)
  • Small Independent Restaurant/ Wine Bar.

You can either enter yourself or nominate one of your team or a buyer you work with. To do so you will have to include:

  • a list of your current wine suppliers.
  • the approximate number of wines you list per venue.
  • the approximate number of wines you list per supplier (ie 20 from two suppliers or 10 wines from 10 suppliers).
  • provide three examples of pricing (to show range of pricing at one site, or pricing at different sites).
  • any buying restrictions you are subject to (style of restaurant, or supplier restrictions)
  • what kind of margins are you expected to achieve and how you deliver them.
  • how you have worked with suppliers to optimise deals.
  • do you involve your staff in your buying decisions.
  • how far you plan your wine list in advance.
  • examples of promotions, events, seasonal listings.
  • keeping on top of trends and which ones work in your business.

Hannah Tovey, head of the London Wine Fair, said she saw the awards as an ideal way for the show to both celebrate what will be its 40th anniversary in 2020, but also “recognise those wine professionals whose daily decisions actually shape the UK’s wine industry – the buyers.”

The London Wine Fair’s Hannah Tovey hopes to give something back to the trade by recognising the best buying talent in the wine industry

She added: “Launching what will become an annual award is a great reason to celebrate the wine industry at large and reward those key players who excel in creating trends and adding value and innovation to the UK’s wine lists and shelves. The restaurant buyer category will be particularly exciting to judge with such a broad spread of wine-focused restaurants across the UK, from quirky wine and charcuterie outlets to the more formal Michelin starred establishments. We look forward to rewarding the best restaurant wine buyers and inspiring the next generation.”

The Restaurant Buyer category is the ideal fit for The Buyer, for the website was set up to do what these new awards are all about. Lift the bonnet on the daily ins and outs of the premium on-trade and hospitality sectors and assess and analyse the work that goes on between buyers, distributors, importers and producers in finding the right wines to list for different outlets in this highly competitive sector.

Martin Lam has both run his own restaurant and helped buy wines for a number of prestigious restaurant groups

Buyers’ conference

The London Wine Fair is also going to host a standalone ‘Wine Buyers Conference’ during its show in May, just prior to the awards being presented on May 19 at London Olympia. The conference will be aimed at the next generation of senior buyers and will be designed to inspire and guide those embarking on a buying role and is also being headed up by Chis Losh.

Key dates

Deadline for entries: January 20 2020

Shortlist revealed: February 25 2020

Awards Ceremony: May 19 2020