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What winning Supplier of the Year taught Lion

July 13, 2020
By Alana House

When Lion won Supplier of the Year at the 2019 Australian Drinks Awards, no one in the room could have predicted the 12 months that lay ahead.

“It has been a year of brand new challenges for Lion – and it would be fair to say these are challenges that we have never really had to face before as a supplier,” said Lion Sales Director Mark Powell.

“From the worst bushfire season on record, to the continued drought, and then COVID-19 as well as a cyber attack, it hasn’t been an easy road for us.

“But it has just emphasised the importance of focusing on providing the best customer service we possibly can, in spite of any obstacles we face.”

After being placed in the top three for Supplier of the Year three years running, Lion took out the top award last year.

The winners of the Supplier category at the Awards are chosen via the annual Advantage Trade Benchmark Survey. The Drinks Association has been commissioning Advantage Australia for the past decade to conduct the annual survey, which provides members with favourability ratings and qualitative retailer feedback from the off trade, on premise, wholesale and outlets channels.

Advantage General Manager Steve Andrews noted that one of Lion’s key strengths was in the important area of supply chain management, which was reflected in the brewer also taking out the Supply Chain Management Award at the 2019 Australian Drinks Awards.

“We know strong relationships are at the heart of good business,” he added. “These awards recognise those suppliers with best-in-class business relationships, who are notable for their collaborative planning, consistency of delivering on commitments and proactivity in looking for ways to support their retail partners’ strategies.”

The results of the 2020 Advantage Survey will be more important than ever for suppliers in light of the issues faced during the year.

“The Advantage Survey gives us a good snapshot of the challenges customers are experiencing, and indeed the opportunities for suppliers in building better business relationships, and meeting customers’ needs,” said Powell.

“It absolutely goes without saying that the results of the 2020 Survey will be particularly compelling for all suppliers, as we know it has been an extremely difficult period for the beverages, hospitality and retail sectors, with bushfires and COVID-19 compounding to create a lot of uncertainty for all related industries.

“And we know it has been particularly challenging for the on-premise, following the mass closure of venues due to COVID-19, and now as they do their best to re-open with a raft of new requirements and considerations.

“From Lion’s perspective, we have put our customers at the heart of every decision we have made in dealing with COVID-19. It will be so important for the entire industry to work closely together to overcome what has been a really devastating start to the year.”

What winning meant to the Lion team

Powell said winning Supplier of the Year in 2019 was a great morale boost for the Lion team “who really do live and breathe customer service every day”.

“We would like to thank our customers for their ongoing support and partnership as we collectively tackle many of the adversities 2020 has thrown at us,” he said.

“Winning those awards provides us with goal for the year ahead – a reminder to always strive to be the best when it comes to customer service and supply.”

Powell (pictured above with Advantage’s John McLoughlin) said the Lion team was looking forward to watching this year’s virtual awards ceremony and celebrating the 2020 winners.

“And we look forward to being able to join our industry colleagues in person once again, hopefully in the not too distant future,” he concluded.

Click here to register to watch the 2020 Australian Drinks Awards, which will be live streamed on Thursday, July 30, between 4.30pm and 5pm.

Pictured main: Mark Powell with Advantage’s John McLoughlin.