The Trusts West Liquor store at Westgate Centre is officially the best retail liquor store in New Zealand, according to the judges in the Hospitality New Zealand Awards for Excellence that were announced on 8 October.
The Trusts Westgate store is the newest in the extensively refurbished and rebranded “West Liquor” chain, now operating throughout West Auckland with the aim of being world-class by any measure and being the best stores in New Zealand.
“We know from industry experience that we stand in comparison internationally and now we have had fantastic confirmation from our industry peers, that one of our stores is judged as the best in New Zealand,” said The Trusts CEO, Simon Wickham, after the award was announced to a 400 strong industry crowd in Nelson.
Mr Wickham said that all West Liquor stores were all designed similarly to give world class customer service within a safe, pleasant and welcoming premises, it was possible that any one of them could have won the award.
“There is little to choose between any of them in terms of the overall standard of international levels of excellence that we insist upon.” he said.
“Hospitality New Zealand chief executive Bruce Robertson said “All these winners reflect an incredible amount of passion and commitment from their business owners, and that passion and commitment is ultimately passed on to their customers. They rightly deserve to be recognised as the best in their class, anywhere in New Zealand,” he said.
Entrants into the Hospitality New Zealand Awards for Excellence are judged by a panel of independent industry professionals who assessed every competitor on a range of commercial and operational criteria – including staff training and human resources, customer service, marketing and promotional activities, and the demonstration of business growth.
Simon Wickham said that The Trusts began transforming and modernising its stores four years ago, with the intention of giving West Auckland the most socially beneficial liquor retailing in New Zealand.
The stores were remodelled to provide a bright, elegant and open environment that felt both attractive and safe to all customers and especially women. They were given an entirely new brand (West Liquor or Village Wine & Spirits) and livery drawn from the colours and themes of West Auckland. The staff are also trained to an international standard in both customer service and product knowledge.
Two years ago the exceptional standard achieved was acknowledged by the Dale Carnegie Training organisation, with one of only five awards for excellence given worldwide.
This was another proof of the reality of The Trusts slogan of “Giving Back”, Mr Wickham said.
“We’re owned by the community and the community expects us to achieve very high standards of liquor retailing within a context of social responsibility that gives them everyone the ability to enjoy a pleasant drink when and how they wish. They also want us to treat them as first class citizens and to us our profits to generate a range of social benefits without a creating a catastrophic catalogue of social and criminal consequences.
“That’s what we’ve set out to achieve, and we’re achieving it,” Mr Wickham says.
The Trusts operates the businesses operated by the publicly owned Portage Licensing Trust and Waitakere Licensing Trust.
Private businesses must maximise profits pay dividends to their shareholders; we don’t have to. So, we can forgo profit by having a balance between having enough retail outlets but not too many. We can also invest more in excellence and return more than a million dollars a year in sponsorships, household safety items and other forms of support to the community. A return that is obvious everywhere throughout West Auckland,” Mr Wickham says.
“Accordingly after four years of intensive effort to deliver excellence it’s wonderful to receive this confirmation and accolade from our peers that indeed, the people of West Auckland are getting the best store and service in New Zealand. Go the west!” he says.