Morrisons has walked off with some glittering prizes for its drinks offering and the way it has developed its ranges. Keeping its simple is key Morrisons has been winning respect for the success of its drinks offering and praise for the way it has been developing its ranges. Its latest plaudit came from the International Wine and Spirit Challenge this year which voted it Supermarket of the Year. The chain is also the International Wine and Spirit Competition's European Wine Retailer of the Year and the Which? Wine Guide's Supermarket of the Year. John Spurs, licensed trade director, says this achievement has been gained by keeping things simple, an approach taken with the development of the beers, wines and spirits aisles, and throughout the whole store. "We offer the consumer a wider choice across the board, which makes the fixture interesting and makes new consumers want to see what we are doing, particularly where we are opening stores in areas which are alien to us," he says. "This means working on every product group, not only drinks. Then, when we get the footfall we have to get the shoppers into the bws aisles, and it seems not every retailer can do that." He says the industry average of customers going into the drinks department is less than 30% of shoppers who visit the stores, while at Morrisons it is closer to 40%. "Some of the others are breaking their necks to get people into their stores but they still can't get them to go to the bws aisles." The fixture is a large one in all Morrisons' stores, not just one or two. Each devotes 10% of its selling space to bws which, on average, gives a department of 3,000-4,000 square feet. This amount of space allows the widest range of choices and the highest number of products. Spurs adds: "It also provides the comfort factor of browsing space where customers can take time to purchase. Choosing wine cannot be done at the same pace as most groceries." Creating the right ambience is just one part of the mix, the promotional package is also key. Spurs is not an advocate of every day low pricing because he believes that eventually consumers take the prices as read, and don't recognise them as an attractive offer. He prefers the high/low approach. "Our prices are competitive but we have a promotional programme on a monthly cycle. There are very good reductions, and if people want them they have to fill their boots before it all sells out." He also believes that consumers have to be persuaded to make the most of the deals. "You have to sell it to them and present it well. Supermarket retailers do not do this well. We make sure the products are there in abundance, can be found easily and can be identified as a deal by eyecatching point of sale." "Two or three years ago we decided to look at ways of getting across a deal that created interest and a willingness to buy and set up the impulse purchase. This led to the Yours for a fiver' and Yours for a tenner' concepts in the wine aisles." Spurs says the answer to a successful Christmas is to make sure the products are in the store. "If you haven't got it you can't sell it," he says, and behind this obvious statement is an awareness of how critical it has become to get the logistics right. "I don't understand why people can't get this right. We tell our managers what we are doing for Christmas and give them a step by step guide for the last eight weeks and rules to live by." The messages are simple and include clearing out the warehouse and making sure the heavy stuff is accessible. There is a plan for each product and each store, with the result, says Spurs, that "we are very rarely out of stock or seriously overstocked when Christmas is over. "It seems that no one else does that. The information is there, all it takes is pre-planning and communication between the trading departments and the store operations." In the past three years Morrisons has been increasing the focus on wines to the point they now take centre stage in the bws fixture. This year Spurs and his team reorganised the New World offering with a view to creating more space. "We put all the wines in a major tasting and judged them on quality and price. We let the wines speak for themselves." Some stayed and some left. Spurs says: "Some of the Gallo wines did not make it." {{FOCUS SPECIALS }}