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.’