Aldi has been crowned Grocer of the Year at the 2023 Retail Week Awards, sponsored by Salesforce, after overtaking Morrisons to become the UK’s fourth largest supermarket last year.
Aldi’s rapidly growing market share ejected Morrisons from the “big four” line-up of supermarkets in September and it fought off further competition from its rivals to win the top prize at the Retail Week Awards, the retail industry Oscars, at London’s Intercontinental Hotel O2 on Thursday night (30 March 2023).
The Retail Week Award judges praised the German-owned discounter’s price-beating strategy that has seen it gain new shoppers and open more stores whilst ensuring it prioritises its staff and remains highly competitive on pay.
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Charlotte Hardie, editor in chief at Retail Week, commented: “Aldi has continued to disrupt a UK grocery market that’s been dominated for decades by Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons. It’s a seismic shift that is testament to Aldi’s winning strategy of focusing on price and new stores and which will likely result in Aldi’s market share increasing even further as the rising cost-of-living pushes price up the list of priorities for cash-conscious shoppers.”
Giles Hurley, CEO of Aldi UK and Ireland, said: “At Aldi, we’re driven by a mission to make high-quality, affordable food accessible to all, and that has never been more important.
“This award is for all 40,000 of my colleagues, whose amazing work every day helps make that mission a reality and ensures Aldi is there for our customers, as well as our thousands of suppliers, keeping our promises when they need us most.”
A good night for Primark at Retail Week Awards
Primark scooped two awards, Attentive Fashion Retailer of the Year and AlixPartners Best Retailer over £250m, for introducing new initiatives designed to make its 192 stores and clothing more sustainable, digital and menopause-friendly.
Primark’s 10-year sustainability strategy includes reducing fashion waste, paying workers in its supply chain a living wage and halving carbon emissions, and last year it began selling second-hand clothes in a partnership with the Vintage Wholesale Company.
It has also launched a clothing range for people going through the menopause as well as a new website that gives shoppers access to stock information and will allow them to click and collect items from Primark stores for the first time.
Paul Marchant, Chief Executive at Primark, said: “I am very proud to see Primark recognised as Retailer of the Year and Best Retailer over £250m and it is a testament to the hard work of more than 70,000 colleagues across 15 countries, as well as the strong relationships we have with our suppliers and partners and of course our customers.
“Last year was a big year for Primark as our international expansion continued at pace, we launched new products and experiences in store with new partners, we made important steps forward with our Primark Cares commitments and we rolled out a new website and Click + Collect trial too. However, I really believe the foundation of our success has been staying true to our purpose of helping people to look good and feel good every day at prices that are affordable to as many as possible.”
Charlotte Hardie, editor in chief at Retail Week, added: “Primark is clearly focused on proving to its customers that it cares about the things that matter to them. While fast fashion and sustainability don’t go hand in hand, its impressive new initiatives and commitments underline Primark’s willingness to become a more ethical and sustainable business. Meanwhile, Primark’s typically cautious approach to moving online should give the business enough time to invest in the right technology and avoid any further glitches following its long-awaited digital launch last year.”
Mamas and Papas, Currys, Pets at Home and Beaverbrooks among other winners at Retail Week Awards
Aldi and Primark were not the only leading retailers to have claimed a top spot in the 28th annual Retail Week Awards, sponsored by Salesforce.
Mamas and Papas were rewarded for bouncing back from administration in 2019 with a return to profit and a 35% surge in sales last year. The high street nursery retailer, which has set out further growth including 10 store openings under new CEO Nathan Williams, was awarded Best Retailer under £250m.
Currys won SAS Customer Experience Gamechanger for RepairLive, a two-way video repair service that provides customers with technical laptop support from the comfort of their own home, which has already reduced the number of faults having to be repaired in store by half.
Pets at Home was awarded Salesforce Responsible Retailer for its commitment to becoming the most responsible pet care business in the world with a raft of measures including diverting 98% of waste from landfill and donating money and staff volunteering hours to good causes.
Beaverbrooks won The Microsoft Happiest Place to Work, in partnership with the Retail Trust, for demonstrating the extent to which it had protected its colleagues’ jobs, income and wellbeing throughout Covid-19 and during the cost-of-living crisis.
Jacqueline Gold awarded lifetime achievement award
Tributes were also paid to Ann Summers executive chair Jacqueline Gold, who died earlier this month after seven years of treatment for breast cancer. She was awarded the Retail Week Award for Lifetime Achievement on Thursday night and Charlotte Hardie, editor in chief at Retail Week said: “Jacqueline Gold was remarkable. She joined the family business as an intern in 1981, becoming CEO within 10 years. The Ann Summers you see today was her vision, transforming it from a handful of shops with a top shelf and frequented in her words by the raincoat brigade, into what it is today; a successful household name – a female institution – powered by a clear and unrelenting mission to empower women.
“She was also the driving force behind Retail Week’s gender diversity programme Be Inspired when she came to us and said we needed to do more to celebrate retail’s female role models for the next generation.
“The industry has lost a role model and Retail Week will miss a friend. And so it is with great poignance that tonight we honour Jacqueline Gold with a posthumous award for lifetime achievement in retail.”
Retail heroes celebrated at Retail Week Awards
Other individuals and teams from across the retail industry were celebrated for leading their businesses and communities during the last year, including Retail Week’s Community Hero, BP manager, Ganesamoorthy Nithiyakumar who saved the life of an older customer after he found her collapsed in her garden when she didn’t turn up to collect her daily newspaper.
The Body Shop’s inclusive hiring lead Antonia Tony-Fadipe won the Ayden Inclusion and Diversity Hero award for hiring 75% of new staff from marginalised communities in 2022 – up from 12% in 2021. 15% of Body Shop’s newly-recruited staff are also neurodiverse.
And the Retail Week Awards Store Hero Patricio Aleman was praised for transforming IKEA Birmingham into the home and furniture giant’s best-performing store in the world.
Meanwhile Carl Cowling, CEO of WH Smith, was awarded Retail Leader of the Year in front of the ceremony’s 1,000 guests. Under his leadership, the retailer reported soaring revenues and profits last year which have now surpassed 2019’s pre-pandemic levels.
Carl Cowling, CEO of WH Smith said: ‘I’m humbled to receive this award, especially as it is decided by such a distinguished group of leading retailers. It’s a genuine privilege to lead WH Smith, a business with tremendous heritage but also an incredibly exciting future as a leading global travel retailer.
“I don’t see this award as being for me, but for the 14,000 people who work for us across the world. It was their incredible commitment which got us through the pandemic, and which is now positioning the business for further growth in travel markets across the world.’
The Retail Week Awards are a symbol of excellence within the retail sector and this year’s judging panel included some of the biggest names in the industry, ranging from Simon Roberts, CEO of Sainsburys to Manju Malhotra, CEO of Harvey Nichols.
Charlotte Hardie, Editor in Chief at Retail Week, said: “Our judges were blown away by the calibre of this year’s entries and specifically the incredible efforts of our winning shopworkers, delivery drivers and headquarters staff who have worked so hard to adapt to evolving customer expectations, changing spending habits and local community needs by transforming their businesses and the way they operate.”
Navkinder Sanghera, Area Vice President, Head of UK Retail and CG, Salesforce added: “This year’s Retail Week Award winners are an excellent example of how forward-thinking retailers can capture the hearts and minds of shoppers by prioritising the customer experience. Today’s consumers are increasingly looking for connected and personalised experiences. By delivering on these needs, retailers can also reap the rewards of growth – as well as industry leading recognition.”
The awards ceremony followed the UK’s retail industry event Retail Week LIVE 2023 which took place from 28 – 29 March.
The Retail Week Awards 2023 Winners:
THE RETAIL WEEK AWARD FOR LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT – Jacqueline Gold, Executive Chair, Ann Summers
THE OKTA FUTURE LEADER AWARD – Kirsty Keoghan, Senior Director UK Trading, eBay
Silver award – Naomi Kasolowsky, Group Insight & Foresight Director, Tesco.
THE RETAIL TRUST HAPPIEST PLACE TO WORK AWARD, SPONSORED BY MICROSOFT – Beaverbrooks
Silver award – Papier.
THE STORE HERO AWARD: – Patricio Aleman, Market Manager, Ikea, Birmingham
Highly commended – Craig Lambe, Master Manager, Kwik Fit, Cardiff, Pontypridd, Merthyr Tydfil, Caerphilly
DISTRIBUTION/DELIVERY HERO/HEROES AWARD – Fulfilment Development and Analytics Team, The Very Group
HEAD OFFICE HEROES AWARD – Dr Subashini M, Director of Science and Wellness, and Dr Taran Toor, Director of New Wellness Innovation, Holland & Barrett
THE ADYEN INCLUSION & DIVERSITY HERO/HEROES AWARD – Antonia Tony-Fadipe, Inclusive Hiring Lead, The Body Shop
BEST NEW STORE AWARD – Mind Charity, Carnaby Street, London
Silver award – Flannels, Liverpool.
THE SAS CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE GAMECHANGER AWARD- Currys RepairLive
THE SALESFORCE RESPONSIBLE RETAILER AWARD – Pets at Home
Silver award – Wolf & Badger
THE ATTENTIVE FASHION RETAILER OF THE YEAR – Primark
GROCER OF THE YEAR – Aldi
SPECIALTY RETAILER OF THE YEAR: COOK
Silver award – SportsShoes.com.
BEST RETAILER UNDER £250m – Mamas & Papas
BEST RETAILER OVER £250m – Primark
COMMUNITY HERO/HEROES AWARD – Ganesamoorthy Nithiyakumar, Store Manager, BP, Rushett Connect
THE SALESFORCE RETAIL LEADER OF THE YEAR AWARD – Carl Cowling, CEO of WHSmith
THE CONSUMER CHOICE AWARD – Amazon