Tristan Stephenson gives his verdict on the off-trade after joining Lidl

19 April, 2017

The off-trade spirits market is in a good position for growth, with signs it is picking up traction from the on-trade, according to a leading bartender.

Tristan Stephenson has been appointed Lidl UK’s new spirits consultant and will work closely with the spirits buying team to advise on NPD and provide tasting notes and cocktail recipes for existing products.

The retailer already has expert advisors working alongside its wine team in the form of three MW consultants – Richard Bampfield, Caroline Gilby and Ed Adams.

Stephenson told OLN: “The on-trade has long enjoyed growth in craft, diversity and education. But it’s been good to see that starting to filter into the off-trade with better quality of liquids, better information about why they taste this way and how they can be used. 

“The off-trade is now getting a lot better. There have always been a lot of wine options out there and specialist wine shops, but spirits probably haven’t received the limelight they have deserved.

“The off-trade spirits market is now quite an exciting developmental area and it’s great to be part of that with my relationship with Lidl. I am looking forward to bringing it to life and hopefully educating consumers about why these drinks are in Lidl’s spirits range.

“It’s hard to do this in a retail space because there are no bartenders and no physical menu so you are relying on packaging, but it all starts with having good quality liquids and from there on it is a communication piece,” Stephenson added.

“It’s about education, which is not a word people want to hear when they are shopping, but information is what is needed and it is what bartenders have been doing for years. It’s about clear packaging and, for me, it will be about how Lidl is going to communicate this information on pack.”

Stephenson said his on-trade experience will help Lidl in a number of ways. Firstly, he said, he will be helping to ensure the range is targeted and focused. “And secondly it’s about when to buy these drinks and why, and how to use them. So I will be using Lidl’s magazine to suggest recipes and serves and talking about occasions that certain spirits may fit into. Lidl’s range is already picking up awards and I believe it’s going to get even better.”

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