BINYAMINA WINERY has every reason in the world to say Lehaim! It was the only Israeli winery to win a medal at the 2008 International Wine Challenge held in Japan, receiving a silver medal for its Special Reserve Shiraz 2005. At the International Wine Challenge in London, Binyamina received a silver medal for Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 and a gold medal for being judged the best Israeli wine. Binyamina has been winning medals in international competitions since 1998. It won its first International Wine Challenge medal in 2001 in Hong Kong, a silver medal for its Cabernet Sauvignon. Binyamina also rates a mention in the recently published book World's Best Wines.
Established in 1952, Binyamina's main building currently serves as its visitors' center; it was originally a perfume factory that was built in 1925 by Baron de Rothschild, so there is a bouquet in the products in more ways than one.
In 1992, the winery was acquired by private investors, including Israeli expatriates Danny Dimbort and Avi Lerner, who subsequently bought it outright, introduced new cutting-edge technology and invested a lot of money in upgrading production. Binyamina sales and awards since then are testimony to their acumen. Dimbort and Lerner, who also own Nu-Image, a Hollywood-based production company, recently sold Binyamina Winery for $13.5 million to Hetzi Hinam, Israel's third-largest supermarket chain, which is owned by the Cooper-Lee family and Zahi Shalom.
Commenting on Binyamina's latest triumphs in international competition, the winery's general manager, Ilan Hasson, said it was a source of great pride to Binyamina Winery to win a silver medal when competing against hundreds of other entries from leading companies around the world. That Binyamina was the only Israeli wine producer to win a medal in these contests demonstrates the quality revolution Binyamina has undergone in recent years and justifies the huge investment that was made.
NOT EVERYONE is crying all the way to the bank. Superpharm is opening 18 new branches in 2009, which by the end of next year will bring the total number of stores in the chain to 160. According to Superpharm COO Yair Assael, the company is not planning to fire employees nor to stop funding any of the projects in which it is involved. Moreover, the company has just spent NIS 77m. at the annual suppliers' market at the Avenue at Airport City on purchases for its chain of stores. This represents an increase of 16 percent over the previous year. The leading supplier at this year's fair was Dr. Fischer, whose sales came to NIS 5m.
ANOTHER success story is that of Domino's Pizza, which did so well in Israel this year that Kory Spiroff, who heads Domino's Pizza operations in Europe and the Middle East, is due to arrive in Israel on November 30 with two other top executives to judge a pizza bake-off - not for the flavor, but for the speed. Domino's Pizza in Israel conducts an annual competition among its various branches to break new records in preparing the dough for the pizza base.
Tossing the pizza dough may look like a game, or an enviable skill, but it's more than that. Speed is part of service; when one adds up how many pizzas any pizza parlor prepares on any given day, the few seconds' difference in making and baking a pizza adds up to a lot of time - and time is money. So although the contest is a fun event, it is also a serious marketing tool.
YET ANOTHER example of the spirit of optimism that continues to prevail in some quarters is the announcement by Co-Op that it will be opening its first overseas branch and has chosen London as the venue. The new store is scheduled to open in the first half of 2009. It will be the flagship of a chain of British Co-Op stores. Co-Op CEO Rami Mandel traveled to London last week with a secretarial team to organize arrangements with Pauline Green, president of Co-Op Britain, which will have a 50% share in the new venture, in which the partners will invest Â£1m. Mandel estimates that there will be five Co-Op branches operating in England over the next three years.
AWARE THAT some of its regular clientele have suffered as a result of the downturn in the economy, Shufersal, formerly known as Super-Sol, is cutting prices on basic products by amounts ranging from a few agorot to as much as six shekels. Inasmuch as this is a humanitarian gesture, it is also a good marketing ploy, because everyone loves a discount. Even those customers who still have no problem buying more-expensive products will be tempted to buy more of the marked-down items, which will keep stock rolling.
WHILE BASICS are coming down in price, special-event items are going up. Remember the days when you could buy a dozen Hanukka doughnuts for NIS 10 or even less? Well those days are definitely over. Doughnuts - or soofganiyot as they're called in Hebrew - are appearing in pastry shops at unprecedented prices. Roladin is charging NIS 7.50 for a single doughnut! Admittedly, they're not plain doughnuts, but even so, the thought of paying that much for a doughnut is mind-boggling.
Prices at English Cake are also quite steep, but it's almost a tradition in Israel to overspend at holiday time, because one cannot celebrate a Jewish holiday without the appropriate foods. Since doughnuts are definitely part of Hanukka fare, there's little doubt that they will sell like hotcakes. Roladin produces 100,000 doughnuts a day during Hanukka.