Bibendum scoops second Merchant of the Year Award at SWA 2018

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Drinks: Drinks, Wines
Location: UK

Bibendum has won Merchant of the Year in the Sommelier Wine Awards 2018 for the second year on the trot. The award – announced yesterday – marks a good few days for the wine merchant, which announced the return of Michael Saunders as CEO on Monday.

‘For us to get this award two years on the trot is an endorsement of the continued improvement in the range and the breadth and reach that the business has,’ Saunders told Imbibe. ‘We have been strong in the classic countries for years, but we have really driven some of the more esoteric styles like sherry and English wine as well recently.’

Bibendum narrowly saw off stiff competition from Boutinot, which won Great Value Merchant of the Year, alongside Berkmann.

Other awards included New World Merchant of the Year (Liberty), European Merchant of the Year (Hallgarten & Novum),  Italian Merchant of the Year (Eurowines), French Merchant of the Year (Matthew Clark) and Fine Wine Merchant of the Year (Top Selection).

Saunders was positive about his plans for revitalising Bibendum following the collapse of Conviviality earlier this year.

‘There’s no denying we have some difficult stuff to sort out, like the sales platform,’ he said. ‘But one of the things that I’m going to work on very quickly is the culture of the business. That can get lost in a big company. Work has to be fun.’

Changes, he told Imbibe, should be starting instantly.

‘I don’t need to get to know my team or my producers or my customers, I can hit the ground running. [New owner] C&C has a jewel in Bibendum, and I’ve been asked to polish it.

‘We’re going to work hard to make it three Merchant of the Year awards in a row next year.’

About Author

Chris Losh

After five years working on My Weekly magazine (during which time he learned how to write horoscopes and make things out of mince) in 1995 Chris Losh entered the world of drinks writing and, despite all advice from his doctor – and the wishes of most South African winemakers – has stayed there ever since. He began on Wine and Spirit International, editing it for several years before moving on to edit Wine Magazine. Both publications have since gone the way of the Dodo, but he claims to have nothing to do with their demise, and his alibi appears solid, since he was freelance writing for anyone who would pay him at the time. In 2007, he helped to set up both Imbibe magazine and the Sommelier Wine Awards, and has spent much of the last three years eating, drinking, and listening to French sommeliers talk about minerality. In 2009 he was shortlisted for the Louis Roederer Feature Writer of the Year, but didn’t win. Perhaps he should have stuck to horoscopes. And mince.

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