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2014 Review and Hopes and Fears for 2015: Morrisons Mark Jarman

Published:  24 December, 2014

Mark Jarman, head of wine operations at Morrisons, relives the retailer's award-winning year and predicts further success for sherry and South American wines.

How was 2014 for you/your business?

It's been another exciting year for us and we are extremely proud of the overwhelming recognition of our own-brand wines since we re-launched the beers, wines and spirits range last October. We were delighted when you named us the Best Multiple Drinks Retailer of the Year and the Best Multiple Online Drinks Retailer of the Year back in the summer, and our recent IWC wins have helped us to finish the year in style! To end the year with a record number of our own-brand wines being recognised is testament to the hard work of our dedicated wine team, who focus on uncovering top-quality wines that provide value to our customers across all price points.

What do you think were the most significant things that happened/ issues/trends that occurred in 2014?

From a trend perspective, South American wines continue to grow in popularity, inspired by the growing trend for Argentinian style steak restaurants. In particular, sales of Malbec show no sign of slowing down in 2015 and in response to customer appetite we launched three new Malbecs in 2014, at entry, mid-price and premium offerings: La Bodega de Los Altos Andes Malbec £4.99, Alzar Malbec £7.49, Vinalba Malbec £9.99 which have proven a huge success with customers.

Sherry is another growth area for us. For too long it's been associated as the tipple of choice for elderly relatives, but the resurgence in popularity of tapas restaurants has helped inspire customers to look for delicious dry sherry options that can complement their food and cooking. In response to this, last year we introduced a Morrisons Signature Manzanilla into the range, and another two award-winning products this year: Morrisons Signature Palo Cortado and Morrisons Signature Oloroso. The latter were both awarded silver medals in the IWC even before they hit the shelves. These Sherries are available in 37.5cl bottles, and at just £5.99 customers can confidently try new styles without breaking the bank.

What opportunities are you most looking forward to working on in 2015?

I'm looking forward to helping our customers navigate through our range of wines in store, through clearer and simpler layouts. We're midway through a significant Category Review process and our customer insights demonstrate that wine styles are a key consideration. We are looking at ways to bring this to life in store next year.

The other exciting opportunity for us is Morrisons Cellar. Following the migration of Morrisons Cellar to earlier this year, the site is performing really well. The focused range of Wines, Beers and Spirits is proving much easier for our customers to navigate and the added convenience of being able to buy wine at the same time as the wider weekly shop is appealing to many of our shoppers. The improved ordering process and convenient one hour delivery slots are also helping to make the service much more accessible. There are some exciting opportunities for us to create informative and engaging content that focuses less on the specific details of a wine, but more around food and drink matches and important occasions for our customers, such as Easter or Valentine's Day. Again, we will be looking into these early in 2015.

What are you doing for Christmas and New Year?

Christmas is all about enjoying time with my family and, of course, savouring some of our award winning wines!

What will be your favourite tipple over Christmas and New Year?

It has to be Morrisons Signature Valpolicella Ripasso 2012. A little red number set to impress. This Decanter World Wine Awards Trophy winner is packed with concentrated red cherry and fig notes which blend well with all of the different flavours at the Christmas dinner table.

Favourite Christmas film?

There is nothing better than sitting down with my children over Christmas and watching a fun animation; we particularly like Arthur Christmas!

Ideal day out over Christmas period?

Going for a long walk with my family at Bolton Abbey, on the edge of the Dales, and stopping off to cook up some bacon sandwiches on a portable stove.

What do you want most from Father Christmas?

I'm really hoping he brings me some new trainers that incentivise me to do more exercise in the New Year! Having said that, the best present is having some time off to celebrate and enjoy the holidays with family in Yorkshire. It's been a fantastic - but busy - year with lots of travelling, so I'm really looking forward to spending some quality time with my wife and children at home.

New Year resolution?

To do more exercise in 2015 - hopefully with my new trainers from Father Christmas!