Training that gets results

JW Lees Destination Wine Academy: a training case study


JW Lees is a family brewery company based in North Manchester. Alongside the brewery they also have a regional on-trade presence.

The Bibendum Customer Training Team were called upon to design and implement training across their managed estate as part of a renewed emphasis on the wine category within the business.

“Feedback from our customers and from my GM have been positive and I’ll continue to push the goals of achieving higher sales and a better understanding for the staff.” - Callum Forrest, Assistant Manager

Identifying training needs

The crucial first step was to evaluate their training needs and identify any skills gaps. We established that staff were understandably well equipped to talk to guests about their beer range however recognised a need to improve the management, sale and service of wine to bring it more in line. Within the managed estate this could best be achieved by focusing on key staff and employing a cascade approach to learning amongst their wider teams.

“Knowledge has grown more than expected leading to confidence in staff during service and more wine service. …New staff are now being trained the basic by their fellow team members” - Kieran Garrihy, Assistant Manager

The Wine Academy programme

The aim was to create a community of Wine Champions by developing the knowledge, skills and confidence of these key staff. It would be their responsibility, with support, to develop and maintain a wine culture both within their businesses and across the estate.

Candidates were recognised to have the potential to attend a three day Wine Academy; each from different sites across the estate. The Academy was designed to develop both their knowledge and training skills through a series of three 1 day modules with supporting project work and a final assessment.

“I really enjoyed the course and how it was delivered in a way that made the information sink in”  - Ben Hodgkinson, Assistant Manager


There were many factors which contributed to the success of the course not least the dedication and commitment of the candidates themselves…

Feedback following the Academy showed that 100% either agreed or strongly agreed that they had improved their knowledge of wine. 100% also agreed or strongly agreed that they felt more confident recommending and selling wine to customers.

Through their projects the Wine Champions were able to provide compelling evidence of an increase in sales as a direct result of the training sessions they ran. They also showed signs of having begun to build a wine culture in their businesses.

“There was an 11.6% increase in sales of the wine we focused on.  - Matthew Pearce, Supervisor
“It’s really strengthened relationships between front and back of house. The communication over the pass is a reflection of the staff wanting to upsell our wines by using food matching.” - Will Griffiths, Restaurant and Events Manager

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