Retailer Choice Awards, 2018: Results

In its fourth year, the Retailer Choice Awards is now a festive institution for RN. With the voting over and the votes counted, it is now to time to reveal the winners. RN reports

a picture of a Coca Cola vending machine.

Coca-Cola European Partners

Using its salesforce and its advertising, CCEP ensured retailers were up to date on the law and any new category best practice brought in by the Soft Drinks Industry Levy. While not the only supplier to so, CCEP is a market leader and stepped up to this responsibility. Meanwhile, a whole swathe of new arrivals in the Cola-Cola core range – such as Diet Coke Exotic Mango and Coca-Cola Zero Sugar Peach – gave consumers more reasons to buy. 

70% CCEP’s cola market share in convenience

Kay Patel 

Retailer verdict

Coca-Cola has been great with its margins and profitability for me this year. It’s been very good with promotions and activities that have really helped. There’s been a lot of new products and a lot of change after the Soft Drinks Industry Levy. Next year, it will settle down more, but maintaining profitability has been the important thing. They’ve been offering us deals and we have regular rep visits.   

Gary Black
Sales director wholesale and convenience,
Coca-Cola European Partners

Supplier verdict

The independent sector is hugely important, hence why we have invested heavily in field sales visits this year and continued to invest in trade press to deliver business-benefiting communications.

This a display of display of kinder eggs


Earlier in the year, retailer Anish Parekh hailed Ferrero’s field sales team and the price of its small Kinder chocolate bars (RRP 25p). And this year the confectionery supplier has additionally developed the Thorntons brand and its B-Ready breakfast bar. Anish added that other suppliers should learn from the amount of collaboration Ferrero has with independent retailers – and with this joint win, no doubt they now will.​​​​​​​

£105m c-store sales last year​​​​​​​

Anish Parekh
Londis Broadoak and Post Office,
Greater Manchester

Retailer verdict

Ferrero has the perfect mix of the product, pricemarked packaging, brand recognition – everything that helps build it into a great brand. Every time it brings out a new product, it’s trusted. It has acquired brands that fit perfectly into its portfolio, including the likes of Tic Tac and Thorntons. Ferrero supports the convenience store sector, one of the very few large firms that still offers support in terms of having reps.

Levi Boorer
Customer development
director, Ferrero

Supplier verdict

It has been another successful year for Ferrero; we’d like to thank our retailers and the RN team for their ongoing support, with each playing a vital role in that success.

Outside of Budgens shop.

Footfall driver of the year – Post Office 

Footfall driving is all part of the Post Office strategy. This British institution has worked incredibly hard to adapt its offer in recent years to the external pressures of a changing market and operating alongside the convenience channel. 2018 has seen the takeover of Payzone, which, retailers hope, will help the company better deliver its promise to be a bank, building society, currency exchange and – of course – postal delivery service all in one.   

52% of post office shoppers buy something else

Sid Sidhu
Sukhi’s Simply Fresh,

Retailer verdict

At this time of year, the Post Office comes into its own. It’s one of the few footfall drivers that is guaranteed. The Post Office comes with its own kind of exclusivity, too, it’s not just handed out to everyone, there are other factors. I’d like to see more innovation, however, and it will be interesting to see what happens in 2019 after the Payzone deal.  

Debbie Smith
Chief executive – retail,
Post Office

Supplier verdict

This is fantastic news for the Post Office. The Post Office network is continuously evolving and our acquisition of the Payzone network will be another step forward in supporting even more customers and will help set us apart from the competition.

Outside of the Filshill company building

Wholesaler of the year – JW Filshill 

A Scottish company, but one with a growing national reputation for excellence. Its strong customer focus attracts praise as does its innovation and confidence to do things differently, often by utilising smartphone technology or data. In 2018, the company ran a successful campaign to drive sales through its new app (56% had never bought promoted products previously). And after updating its KeyStore More format in late 2017, it’s unsurprising retailers are excited about its expansion into northern England.​​​​​​​

6.7% rise in non-tobacco turnover last year

Garry Haigh 
Peterhead Motors,
Peterhead, Aberdeenshireption

Retailer verdict

I would recommend JW Filshill to anybody. The customer service I’m offered is so good. I know that if I ever have any problems with them, I can get hold of the sales director, and I even have the managing director’s mobile number. The same-day delivery is unbelievable, and the availability is second to none. The promotions are great. 

Simon Hannah 
Managing director,
JW Filshill

Supplier verdict

In 2018, we have invested heavily in technology that saves our customers and our team time – that time is being invested in growing both their turnover and, of course, their profits. This has also been a busy and exciting year with the rollout of our new KeyStore More format across Scotland and the north of England.

Coca-Cola can flavours Vanilla, Cherry, Peach, Exotic mango diet

Ad campaign of the year – Coca-Cola European Partners 

CCEP’s category strength was highlighted this year by the authority of its much-lauded pre-sugar tax communications. Although it was the year of the sugar tax, soft drinks got a big boost from the hottest summer in 42 years. Making an unprecedented investment in its core Coca-Cola range, products such as Coca-Cola Zero Sugar Vanilla and Diet Coke Exotic Mango provided a fun “twist” to CCEP’s core category as the sun shone. 

95% of CCEP’s range is sugar tax exempt

 Jonathan Fraser
Reading, Berkshire 

Retailer verdict

People thought the sugar tax was going to be a big issue and would damage sales, but Coca-Cola has really seen this as an opportunity. I’ve been surprised at how well Coke has done. It approached it the right way, bringing in new flavours and so on, and where I thought we would see a decline, it has turned it into a really positive story. It’s great news for us. 

Gary Black 
Sales director wholesale and convenience,
Coca-Cola European Partners

Supplier verdict

We help independent businesses by investing in field sales, collaborating with wholesalers and educating through the trade press. We led on the soft drinks tax, bringing the three of these together, and we’re thrilled this has been recognised by readers of RN.

a picutre of outside The Guardian

Newsstand star performer – The Guardian

The Guardian is recognised for building a real partnership with retailers and – unlike many – it has not cut its margins throughout 2018. Additionally, The Guardian is another publisher that has taken a leading role within the Deliver My Newspaper initiative – using its salesforce to support retailers and guide them through improving both newsstand and HND sales. All of this despite also reaching its goal of one million online subscribers for its website. 

31% Guardian subscriber savings

Ray Monelle 
Orchard News,
Weston-super-Mare, Somerset

Retailer verdict

I’ll always support a company that supports retailers. The paper has maintained margin throughout the year, which has been the most important thing. And it’s also supported us with promotions and activity, too, along with Deliver My Newspaper. I think that The Guardian has been one of the first to realise that digital is not the be all and end all, that there is still a desire for print, and it is now working harder on that side. 

Publishing director,
Guardian News & Media

Supplier verdict

It has been a huge year for us as we launched our new tabloid format and have worked hard on our proposition with retailers – from the HND initiative to Deliver My Newspaper. We hope to continue our great working relationship in 2019.

Nicalocal retail shop

Symbol group of the year – Nisa

This victory further confirms Nisa has taken the right road. Its retailers seem universally pleased with the arrival of Co-op-branded products and report sales rises to make those smiles wider. One additional benefit of the Co-op deal is an improvement of its premium offers. This adds to work the group has done on display and ranging and means there are perhaps more Nisa stores with the “wow factor” than any other group.

12% sales uplift for Nisa Store of the Future shops

Siva Thievanayagan,
Nisa Local,
Peterborough, Cambs

Retailer verdict

It’s great to have Nisa as a symbol group behind us. I look at the prices at Nisa and you just can’t compare them with other symbol groups – they are better across the board, whether its own label or brands, and the promotions are cheaper, too. Our set-up is different from a lot of other retailers, but we have six-day deliveries that are always on time and there’s never a problem with availability.

Steve Leach 
Sales director,

Supplier verdict

We’re delighted to be named symbol group of the year. Our independent retailers work hard to deliver a great service to their customers and we’re proud to support them. Our store development managers work very closely with our retailers to ensure they deliver the best fit for them.

Wowsomes chocolate bar

Innovation of the year – Nestlé Milkybar Wowsomes

Confectionery without the guilt is always going to be a popular sell. Using an “innovative sugar reduction technique”, Nestlé won the race to bring a lower-sugar chocolate bar to the market. And while the bar’s “aerated, porous particles of sugar that dissolve more quickly in the mouth” might not sound too delicious, any move to make this core category less controversial is to be welcomed. More suppliers are working to catch up.

30% reduction in sugar

Kamal Thaker 
Stop Shop News, 

Retailer verdict

The important thing is that it’s an innovative product. Suppliers think the market for lower-sugar products is only going to grow, so it’s important there is product out there and this fits the bill. Customers are used to sugary products and chocolate, but now they have the option and have been offered the choice. As customers slowly change their minds, we need to have products on the shelves that they can turn to. 

Rob Brown
Marketing manager,
Nestlé Confectionery

Supplier Verdict

We are extremely proud to receive this award. Our ambition with Milkybar Wowsomes is to provide consumers with the perfect choice of a great-tasting treat that has 30% less sugar than similar products and no artificial sweeteners, colours, flavours or preservatives.

An Oreo easter egg

Salesforce of the year – Mondelez

Mondelez reps are, for some retailers, almost part of the family – ‘Cadbury reps’ have a reputation for building up decades-long relationships with stores. And as the company focuses on seasonal events, with huge investment in new products, reps become ever more important. In-store display, theatre and, as the company likes to say, “excitement” are all essential elements to the company’s strategy and the salesforce is always there to help.

 3.7m Creme Eggs hand-delivered to indies

Christine Hope 
Hopes of Longtown,

Retailer verdict

What separates Mondelez from the others is that they know exactly what’s happening, they understand our business. They don’t attempt to sell us stuff that wouldn’t work in our store. 

Mark Stananought
Sales director for the impulse sector,
Mondelez International

Supplier verdict

We’re absolutely thrilled to have won salesforce of the year. Our dedicated team have worked incredibly hard and we’re extremely proud of our category-focused team. We look forward to working with all our retailers in 2019.​​​​​​​

malteser buttons

Launch of the year – Maltesers Buttons

Alongside Truffles, Maltesers Buttons were one of two big launches from the brand this year. While Truffles targeted boxed chocolate, Buttons was launched to cash in on shoppers looking for treats with fewer calories. Out of the products on our list, Maltesers Buttons received the biggest number of listings when it first launched in May this year.

166 calories per pack

Anita Nye
Premier Eldred Drive Stores,
Orpington, Kent

Retailer verdict

It’s something new, something different – but what is surprising is that normally, when something new comes out, there’s interest at first and then it fades away. With Maltesers Buttons, that hasn’t happened – people are coming back. I think the coverage in the press, and the rumours these would replace normal Maltesers, really helped with the launch. It was great marketing. As well as the sales, the margin is good, too. ​​​​​​​

Rebecca Salisbury 
Maltesers brand director,
Mars Wrigley Confectionery 

Supplier verdict

Retailers have been integral to one of the biggest launches for Maltesers and it’s great to see customers enjoying this new way to enjoy our signature taste. 


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