Readers’ Choice Awards

Which suppliers topped the Readers’ Choice Awards 2018?

By MA Editorial

- Last updated on GMT

Top trumps: readers vote their favourite suppliers on top
Top trumps: readers vote their favourite suppliers on top
The results are in, the readers have spoken and The Morning Advertiser (MA) is delighted to reveal the companies that are the go-to suppliers to the pub sector.

The Readers’ Choice Awards sees MA​ canvass its readers to see which companies are setting the standards within the sector.

The winners are…

  • Training Provider
    Winner: CPL
    Highly commended: HIT Training
  • Payment Service Provider
    Winner: Casio
    Highly commended: Zonal
  • Food Service Supplier
    Winner: Booker
    Highly commended: Brakes
  • Cellar Services Company
    Winner: Innserve
  • Waste Management Company
    Winner: Biffa
    Highly commended: Veolia
  • Drinks Suppliers – Ale
    Winner: Marston’s
    Highly commended: Molson Coors
  • Drink Suppliers – Lager
    Winner: Heineken UK
    Highly commended: Molson Coors
  • Drink Suppliers –Wine
    Winner: Molson Coors
    Highly commended: Booker/Makro
  • Drink Suppliers – Soft Drinks
    Winner: CCEP
    Highly commended: Britvic
  • Drink Suppliers – Coffee
    Winner: Lavazza
  • Kitchen Equipment Supplier
    Winner: Nisbets
    Highly commended: Bunzl Lockhart
  • Hygiene Products Supplier Winner: Booker
    Highly commended: PHS
  • Garden Furniture
    Winner: Woodberry
    Highly commended: Nisbets

Editor Ed Bedington said: “We put the question to our readers – who’s the best? And they’ve come back with their preferred suppliers across a range of different sectors.”

Those sectors include:

  • Training Provider
  • Payment Service Provider
  • Food Service Provider
  • Cellar Services
  • Waste Management
  • Drinks Suppliers – Ale, Lager, Wine, Soft drinks, Coffee
  • Hygiene Products Supplier
  • Kitchen Equipment Supplier
  • Garden Furniture

The Readers’ Choice Awards are a result of an extensive survey sent to the licensee audience of MA, asking them to vote for their favourite suppliers to the trade.

The winners are the companies that our readers believe offer the best customer service, reliability and best product range and go the extra mile.

Bedington added: “We canvassed the opinions of the sector and the results were clear – according to those at the sharp end, the winners are the best in the business, and we’re delighted to announce that news.

“Congratulations to all our winners and highly commended – you are clearly doing a great job and that has been confirmed by those that use your services day in and day out.”

Here's a little more about your winners right here…

Hygiene products supplier


Booker hygiene

Director of Old English Inns and Taverns pub group, Seamus Leahy is a big advocate of Booker’s cleaning products.

“Booker’s Clean Pro range does the job as well as branded, if not better, but we save on cost because we buy them in neat and dilute them to use on-site,” he said.

“All of the COSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health) information is written in the manual that Booker gives you, as well as instructions on how and where to use the products,” he added.

By using the wholesaler’s Clean Pro range, versus branded, Leahy believes he makes an annual saving of at least £15,000.

Clear and detailed instructions on packaging also prevents overuse and prevents additional and unnecessary spend, he added.

Prior to using Booker products, Leahy had used a budget range of cleaning supplies, but laments that and said although they saved him money, they did not do the job properly.

Epos Supplier


Casio, a leading provider of robust, all-in-one EPoS solutions has a long-standing heritage in the sector, having manufactured electronic cash registers for more than 40 years, launching its first specialist product in 1976.

Casio EPoS solutions are designed to give operators peace of mind, along with being easy-to-use, stylish and function-rich. With hospitality being a fast-paced, high-demand environment, EPOS technology is at the heart of these businesses and critical to success.

If it fails, it can cause frustrations, delays in orders and negatively impact on the customer experience, which is why Casio EPOS’ features have been built to overcome this.

Casio offers two key products designed specifically for the hospitality industry: the V-R7000 is equipped with a large screen making it ideal for pubs and restaurants, while the V-R200 offers the exact same functionality and powerful software in a compact size with integrated printer and pop up display.

The products are customisable and flexible to specific business needs, allowing the systems to grow with the business. Casio has also recently launched a mobile ordering solution, which runs on Android devices, and aims to increase customer interaction and sales by allowing orders to be taken at the table.

Training Provider

CPL Training


CPL Training is a specialist in the delivery of high-quality training and development for the licensed hospitality sector.

As a trusted partner to the industry, 20,000 delegates choose CPL to undertake their personal licence course each year. It is the only company to organise more than 1,000 courses annually, which take place at 80 venues up and down the country.

Whether it’s compliance training or personal development programmes, CPL can be trusted to deliver on training and development objectives for any company within the UK.

With access to the industry’s best trainers, the training provider has acquired unique sector expertise by building close working partnerships with its loyal client base.

CPL also specialises in application services under licensing law and regulation in England, Wales and Scotland.

From personal licence to premises licence applications, it can remove all of the hassle and complete every aspect that a company or individual needs.

The business was founded 26 years ago by chief executive Daniel Davies, who has led the transformation of CPL into four separate brands: CPL Training, CPL Online, abv Training, and UK Legion Marketing.

Food service supplier


Booker food

One of the UK’s leading food suppliers to the pub trade, Booker is going from strength-to-strength, with total like-for-like sales for the 16 weeks to 29 December 2017 up 6.2% (excluding tobacco) and total sales up 5.9%.

The brand’s subsidiaries include Makro, Ritter Courivaud and Chef Direct, ensuring the business reaches all areas of the eating-out market.

At the end of last year, the £3.7bn Booker-Tesco merger was cleared by the Competition and Markets Authority, before officially going ahead this month.

The giant was adorned with six awards at the Chefs’ Choice Awards earlier this year, including one for its Chef’s Larder Premium Gourmet Crackers and its BlackGate Signature Half Striploin.

Booker is set to expand into ready meal development, which it has never done before, with the aim of allowing its customers to be even more efficient.

There are also plans to build a new app to allow customers to order on the go, similar to Tesco’s PayQwiq app.

“There are all sorts of exciting opportunities we see as being part of the larger group, which will allow us to offer a better choice, quality, price and service to our customers and, therefore, help them grow,” said Booker CEO Charles Wilson.

Drinks supplier – Lager

Heineken UK


The iconic green label of Heineken’s 5% ABV lager beer stands out in any pub, which may be one of the reasons why The Morning Advertiser’s readers voted it their favourite in this year’s Readers’ Choice Awards.

Within its lager portfolio, Heineken has several brands including its 0.0% alcohol-free brew, Foster’s, Tiger and more.

The company posted sales volumes up 4.5% in its global full-year financial report for 2017. Heineken saw beer volume growth in all regions, according to the report.

At the back end of 2017, the brewing giant took a minority stake in London craft brewer the Brixton Brewery.

In February 2017 Heineken launched its own craft beer brand Maltsmiths which came out with two new beers, including a Bavarian-style Pilsner and an American-style IPA (both 4.6% ABV).

The launch of the new brand was to attract the “beer curious”. At the time new beer team director Sam Fielding said Heineken wanted to simplify the craft beer segment.

In the previous year the brewer launched its H41 lager made from ‘wild’ Patagonian yeast, cementing its position as a world lager expert.

Drinks supplier – Ale



It has been a busy 12 months for Marston’s Beer Company, which included the £55m acquisition of the Charles Wells brewery and several of its beer brands.

It now has six breweries across the country – Jennings in Cockermouth, Cumbria; Marston’s in Burton upon-Trent, Staffordshire; Banks’s in Wolverhampton; Ringwood in Hampshire; Eagle Brewery in Bedford and Wychwood in Oxford.

With local brewing heritage embedded in each of the breweries, the company celebrates more than 175 years of brewing history and has an impressive selection of beer brands from the ever-popular Hobgoblin and the classic Pedigree to category leader Shipyard.

Following the acquisition of the Charles Wells Beer Company, it has made distribution gains and its nationwide depots now total 15, with a distribution fleet in excess of 120 vehicles.

Its portfolio is also strengthened with a bigger representation in the premium ale, craft beer and ‘world beer’ market segments, with Estrella Damm, Founders and Warsteiner.

Marston’s Beer Company managing director Richard Westwood said: “We’ve had a great year with continued growth across the beer company, but getting the recognition from the people that really matter is what it is all about.”

Drinks supplier – Wine

Molson Coors

Molson Coors wine

It’s a second win two years in-a-row for Molson Coors’ wine arm, which senior buying manager for wine Gary Keller is thrilled about.

Keller’s approach to buying wine ensures there is something in Molson Coor’s portfolio for every taste, whether they are in a local pub or a gastropub.

The company’s close links with around 40 different wine suppliers, producers and makers allows Keller to handpick the best wines at competitive prices for the on-trade.

There are around 2,000 drinks in the company’s range, including 700 wines, of which 400 are exclusive to the on-trade, ensuring pubs can find options that will give them an edge over competitors operating in different fields.

Some 150 of Molson Coors’ wines are exclusive to the drinks giant itself, giving it an edge on its competitors.

Volume wine sales have increased by 80% since 2010, with the equivalent of 9m bottles being sold annually.

Keller said: “Consumers are demanding quality more and more, and outlets must keep up with this growing demand by offering a selection that satisfies every palate.

“This is probably the biggest shift we have seen in the UK wine industry and we are continuing to grow our selection to meet this changing consumption pattern.”

Cellar Services Company



With an impressive track record as the UK’s leading independent drinks dispense provider, Innserve has been supporting the industry for the past 13 years, supplying more than 80,000 premises across England, Scotland and Wales.

This is the second year on the run the company has claimed the title, which is testament to the dedication and hard work of the company’s technicians, who work 365 days a year to keep pubs pouring, along with support from its highly trained customer service representatives and the overall team, which works tirelessly to deliver great results for customers.

The company estimates it handles up to 450,000 calls a year, making initial diagnostics and, if required, dispatching a technician to deal with more complex issues. The team is on hand to provide support and liaison at all stages of the product installation, keeping customers fully informed.

The company is committed to developing the most innovative products across the industry, establishing excellent working relationships with customers to enable the team to put together tailored plans to make a business more efficient while protecting both profits and the environment.

Innserve works hard to continue to innovate, working closely with third-party companies, for example, the Brewing Research Institute, to test its services like InnClean, which can extend the interval between line cleans by between three and five weeks. The company claims its InnClean system can save businesses between £1,000 and £1,500 a year.

Kitchen Equipment Supplier



Established in 1983, Nisbets’ extensive product range covers everything required by today’s busy publican and pub chef. From heavy duty equipment such as refrigeration and ovens, to items such as chefs’ jackets, beverage machines, knives and furniture, Nisbets is a one-stop shop for the licensed trade.

Offering more than 25,000 products from popular brands such as Polar, Buffalo, Thor, Rowlett and Santos, customers can order online or, via the company’s dedicated telephone line, as well as popping into any one of the company’s 30 retail stores dotted throughout the UK.

In addition, an interest-free credit offer across the Polar and Thor ranges helps publicans to make purchases of key catering equipment by spreading payments over 12 months, thereby helping with their all-important cash flow.

At the heart of the business is the next-day delivery promise, which is free to most of the UK on orders over £55 (excluding VAT) when placed before 8pm (Mondays-Thursdays).

Waste management company


Offering integrated waste management, from collection, recycling, treatment and disposal, Biffa is a firm favourite with readers of The Morning Advertiser, making this the second year on the run for this title.


As well as waste management, the company also operates in technologically driven energy generation as part of it’s four operating divisions.

With responsibility for a significant proportion of the waste generated in the UK, Biffa is at the heart of a dynamic and growing sector, providing vital and important services to companies  across the UK.

As a business running an industrial and commercial waste collection service, Biffa covers a huge range of UK business sectors, ranging from manufacturing and retail, through to hospitality.

With 80 collection depots and transfer stations across the UK, the business handles general waste, glass, dry mixed recyclables, food waste and other segregated recyclables.

Drinks supplier – Soft Drinks

Coca-Cola European Partners

Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP) made a big statement this year, saying it aims to grow the market share of its core range and “add more” to areas where it lacks presence.

The soft drinks supplier launched three new products into its UK range, including chilled coffee products and plant-based smoothie-style beverages. All focus on areas of growing consumer interest, including health and wellbeing.

CCEP also revealed a major redesign of its Schweppes range last year, with the provenance and history of the brand taking front and centre of the new 1783 range.

The on-trade will continue to be a big focus, with the soft drinks category’s value to the sector coming in at £4.2bn. There are also big plans to make the company greener in the future, with proposals to ensure 50% of the plastic materials used in its products come from recycled sources.

“But there is still a lot more work to do to increase recycling in the UK,” said CCEP GB vice-president and general manager Leendert den Hollander.

Drinks supplier – Coffee



Since 1895, Lavazza has been roasting and grinding its coffee beans and has since spread its caffeinated drinks across the world.

The Lavazza group consists of around 30 companies which are managed either directly or indirectly by the head brand. Brands including Carte Noire, Merrild and Kicking Horse are including in its portfolio.

Lavazza is also present in 90 countries and works with 3,000 businesses, as well as selling its product in shops, equating to around 27bn cups of Lavazza coffee sold worldwide.

The coffee giant takes its business very seriously and has 50 training centres across the world, to ensure baristas are well versed in what makes a great cup of coffee.

Whether it’s a simple espresso, an Americano, a cappuccino or a latte, Lavazza has a bean for every customer’s preference.

Garden Furniture



Since the beginning of the 1800s, Woodberry has delivered quality products to its customers and has true value at its heart in a unique business approach.

The business has grown from its humble beginnings selling hardware and paraffin from a horse and cart.

Today, Woodberry of Leamington Spa – headed by Chris and Jim Barr and their family – is a leading expert in design and manufacture of award-winning commercial garden furniture that can be seen the length and breadth of the UK.

The team is passionate about great design meeting functionality, and sources products to withstand heavy, regular use in commercial environments. This reflects the business’s value for money and integrity of service offer.

The team proactively works with its customers, who provide the practical ideas and feedback to make the furniture the best it can be.

Woodberry’s mantra is simple. It gives one-to-one customer service and does not compromise on quality.

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