M&S Food was crowned the Grocer of the Year for the first time in its history at the Grocer Gold Awards last night – capping a great night, in which M&S CEO Stuart Machin also received the coveted Grocer Cup

Under Machin’s leadership, said Adam Leyland, The Grocer’s editor-in-chief and chair of the 50-strong judging panel, ”M&S Food has attracted younger shoppers and grown organic customers by 26% [NIQ] – more than any rival – in a turnaround featuring an exciting new generation of impressive foodhalls, pre-emptive and concerted efforts to tackle its value credentials, dramatic supply chain restructures and the empowerment of store staff to create compelling social media-driven marketing campaigns that have seen sales of its renowned new products soar.” 

But it was a great night for a whole host of retailers, wholesalers and suppliers.

Taking place for the first time at the Royal Albert Hall, hosted by ex-politician Ed Balls, and featuring memorable entertainment from English tenor Russell Watson and the Mozart Symphony Orchestra, a record 34 winners were crowned. 

Asda’s cost of living-busting crusade helped the retailer bag four top honours, more than any other supermarket. 


Source: Getty Images

M&S CEO Stuart Machin was awarded the coveted Grocer Cup

The retailer’s Just Essentials range and Kids Eat for £1 café meals initiative secured Asda awards in the Own-label Range of the Year and Consumer Initiative of the Year categories, while it also won the Grocer 33 Prices Award, and was voted Online Supermarket of the Year for the third time in four years. 

Asda reacted quickly to cost of living increases by replacing its Smart Price value range – offered for over 20 years – with a bigger range called Just Essentials, in striking new yellow packaging. “It captured the imagination and the wallets of shoppers on its May 2022 launch, with stores struggling for several months to meet demand,” said Leyland. 

And though the Kids Eat for £1 initiative was not as high-profile as the 2020 school holiday hunger campaign from footballer Marcus Rashford, it was “a worthy successor that developed into something much more multifaceted”, Leyland added.

Asda’s response to the cost of living crisis was swift and decisive. Not only did the retailer gain significant traction in the press and on social media, it had an instant impact for millions of Brits struggling to make ends meet.”

Insight delivered a clever Hellmann’s campaign built on consumer needs

Hellmann’s winning Food Brand of the Year activation also sought to alleviate tightening consumer budgets with ‘Cook Clever, Waste Less’.

Research by the condiments giant highlighted a consumer need for insight on how to save money and food waste. This resulted in the ‘Use-up day’ initiative, which encouraged shoppers to cook with leftovers through a Tesco partnership.

But the awards also reflected strong efforts by retailers and suppliers to eliminate waste, reduce climate change and encourage a circular economy.


Ocado was crowned winner of the Recycling Initiative of the Year award

Ocado won the Recycling Initiative of the Year award – in conjunction with Polytag – following the development of a world-first digital deposit return scheme trial for milk bottles.

A game-changing doorstep recycling scheme for hard-to-recycle plastics and the expansion of its Club Zero scheme helped Abel & Cole win Specialist Online Retailer of the year. 

And the Waste Not Want Not Award was won by Westfalia Fruit UK thanks to pioneering work to ensure the whole use of avocados.  

“She radiated energy, tenacity, positivity and humility. She is testament to the power of positive thinking”

Meanwhile Tesco’s development of a low-carbon fertiliser won Sustainability Initiative of the Year, as well as the E-commerce Initiative of the Year for the rollout of Whoosh, its rapid delivery service, to over 1,000 stores. 

Tesco was also voted Britain’s Favourite Supermarket, for the ninth year straight. The only award of the evening voted for by shoppers, and the biggest annual consumer survey in the UK, the NIQ research showed that Tesco was once again the most consistent of all the retailers across the 10 criteria it uses. The research was notable for showing that discounter Aldi is closer than ever to challenging Tesco as the consumer champion, thanks primarily to its prices but also its growing national reach. 

Aldi store worker

Employer of the Year was awarded to Aldi for the second time

Aldi won the Employer of the Year for the second year running, with an impressive series of new initiatives, and set the agenda on supermarket pay, but narrowly missed out to rivals in several categories. 

Meanwhile Sainsbury’s Upton store manager Laura Smith was the winner of our Store Manager of the Year competition. Smith, who returned three years ago to the Sainsbury’s Upton store where she started her career as a trainee manager 31 years ago, ”radiated energy, tenacity, positivity and humility”, said Leyland, as she “worked through a wider Sainsbury’s restructure that eliminated the deputy store manager position at the store, despite Smith only working part-time in her GSM role to balance family and work life, and still delivered a fantastic result. She is a testament to the power of positive thinking.”

On the supplier side there were a number of wins for soft drinks players.

Lucky Saint’s pub launch contributed to win

Alcohol-free beer Lucky Saint beat a strong roster of alcohol brands to be crowned Drinks Brand of the Year, after building millions of pounds in off- and on-trade sales in just four years through brilliant marketing activation that included launching their own pub, serving both alcoholic and alcohol-free drinks.

Also in drinks, CBD brand Trip was voted Soft Drinks Brand of the Year after impressing with its rapid growth and multiple distribution gains in grocery and food to go.

And Britvic won a new award for Supplier of the Year thanks to its success in combining heavy investment in capacity, marketing and resilience, with cost-cutting and better procurement.

The fourth-generation potato supplier Albert Bartlett won Own Label Supplier of the Year following its continued success in diversifying into chilled and frozen potatoes. 

KFF Little Moons

A double winner in 2022, Little Moons walked away with Exporter of the Year

Ice cream sensation Little Moons, last year’s double winner of Entrepreneur of the Year and Food Brand of the Year, won another Gold award, this time as the Exporter of the Year.

And in a market that has seen challenger brands struggling to be heard and new product development crushed by the cost of living crisis, another notable winner was The Bold Bean Company in the Start-up of the Year category, as co-founder Amelia Christie-Miller’s bean obsession brought new excitement to a traditionally conservative category.

In the Independent Retailer of the Year category, there was a first win for Tout’s, which has successfully cut its ties to symbol fascia Budgens to thrive as a second-generation chain of supermarkets, forecourts and restaurants. Tesco-owned symbol Premier won Symbol of the Year. 

The National, Regional and Specialist Wholesaler of the Year awards were won by foodservice player Bidfood UK, Northern Ireland Spar wholesaler and retailer Henderson Wholesale and organic specialist Cotswold Fayre respectively.

For details of all the winners and why they won please see The Grocer’s special coverage here


Golds sponsors final

M&S Food wins Grocer of the Year for the first time in its history