Fairness and flexibility among speciality and deli buyers are the assets most prized by suppliers, who have nominated their top six in the category for The Grocer. Sainsbury’s Melissa Draycott also received praise for her work with suppliers in helping them to meet their objectives. “We have an accessible relationship on a level pitch,” said one.

Budgens’ Laura Kingsman was praised for her ability to negotiate without being confrontational and for her innovative approach. “She is entrepreneurial and prepared to take a chance,” a supplier said.

Sound judgement was where Hilary Nithsdale, who recently took charge of speciality food departments in 20 Morrisons supermarkets,
scored top marks. One supplier said of her: “She is perceptive about what needs to be included and excluded.”

“Polite, friendly, straightforward and honest” were qualities highlighted for Fortnum & Mason‘s Charles Ribeyro, while effective communication was one of Waitrose buyer John Vine’s strengths, helped by his longstanding relationships with manufacturers. The Grocer was told:“He is flexible and happy to chat about ideas.”

Dominic Weston, who is head of House of Fraser’s new foodhall in its Rackhams store in Birmingham, was also valued by suppliers for his trustworthiness.