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IGA Names Its International Retailers Of The Year, Presents New Awards

IGA Int'l Retailers of the Year
At the IGA International Retailers of the Year presentation, from left: Mark Batenic; Paul, Antonio, Elisabeth and Joe Romeo; Gary and Terrie Baker; Moalian Luo; and John Ross.

Last updated on August 30th, 2022 at 03:05 pm

It’s a big year for Baker’s IGA. The Ohio grocer, owned by Gary and Terrie Baker, celebrates 100 years in business and was just named the IGA USA International Retailer of the Year.

This award and others were presented at a brunch on Feb. 11 as part of the IGA Global Rally in Las Vegas, Feb. 10-11.

The Baker family has five IGAs in Ohio, including the award-winning Baker’s IGA in Newcomerstown. Gary and Terrie, who have worked side by side in the business for 40 years, attribute their legacy of success to their ongoing commitment to fostering a caring culture for their employees, shoppers and community. The Newcomerstown store is known throughout the area it serves for fun promotional events, local favorite deli items made from Baker’s signature recipes, and giving back to the community, according to IGA. Baker’s IGA is supplied by Associated Wholesale Grocers in Nashville, Tennessee.

Two other International Retailers of the Year were named for Australia and China.

The Australian winner is Antonio, Joseph and Paul Romeo of McLaren Vale Foodland IGA in McLaren Vale, South Australia, serviced by Metcash Food & Grocery, Kidman Park, South Australia.

The Romeo family owns 40 IGAs across South Australia and New South Wales. The alliance says McLaren Vale Foodland IGA “stands out with a truly unique and innovative shopping experience that includes a walk-through cheese room displaying a vast range of local and internationally made cheeses; a fresh sushi bar with its own sushi chef; an extensive selection of gourmet produce, meats and wines.”

The IGA China International Retailer of the Year is Maolian Luo of Xin Yu Lou Department Store Group Co. Ltd., Huanghua, Hebei, China P.R.

Xin Yu Lou Department Store Group has been serving shoppers in Hebei China for 34 years. The company’s motto, “Focus on the shoppers and lead them to a healthy, quality life” guides the store’s attention to the well-being of shoppers and employees alike. Buyers from Xin Yu Lou carefully source products from around the world, bringing healthy and safe fresh food, and quality clothing and products.

The International Retailer of the Year honor is given to IGA retailers who, based on globally applied standards, have achieved exemplary excellence in retailing and advancement of the brand.


The Hometown Proud retailers

The selection of the IGA International Retailers of the Year began in the fall of 2017 when IGA USA Licensed Distribution Companies (LDCs) were each asked to submit one Five Star retailer as a candidate for International Retailer of the Year. Six retailers were chosen to be visited by the IGA USA executive team. In the end, Gary and Terrie Baker were chosen to join the International Retailers of the Year from other countries.

All six Hometown Proud retailers were honored during the Feb. 11 brunch.

In addition to the Bakers, this year’s Hometown Proud Retailers are:

• Scott Blair, Liberty IGA, Liberty, Kentucky; serviced by Laurel Grocery Co.

• Jeet Brahmbhatt, Fresh Foods IGA, Castle Hayne, North Carolina; serviced by SpartanNash–South Heartland.

• Archie McGregor III, Dissmore’s IGA, Pullman, Washington; serviced by Supervalu–Tacoma.

• Stan Dilworth and Tracy Dilworth, Dill’s Food City IGA, Royston, Georgia; serviced by Merchants Distributors LLC.

• Carl Penta and Ed Penta, McKinnon’s Supermarket & Super Butcher Shop, Portsmouth, New Hampshire.


IGA Hometown Proud Retailers
IGA Chairman Mark Batenic (left) and IGA CEO John Ross (right) flank the IGA USA Hometown Proud Retailers, from left: Carl Penta and Ed Penta of McKinnon’s Supermarket & Super Butcher Shop; Archie and Shelley McGregor of Dissmore’s IGA; Tracy Dilworth and Stan Dilworth of Dill’s Food City IGA; Nirav Modi and Jeet Brahmbhatt of Fresh Foods IGA; Tiffany and Scott Blair of Liberty IGA; and Gary and Terrie Baker of Baker’s IGA.

“It’s clear to me that our IGA 2018 International Retailers of the Year and IGA USA Hometown Proud Retailers are some of the best in the business, and it’s amazing to see how the entrepreneurial spirit comes shining through,” CEO John Ross said. “From the specialty items they’re creating in their delis and bakeries and the way they merchandise local products, to the promotions that keep their stores fun and interesting, each of these businesses is a veritable think tank of innovative ideas reflecting the pride and creativity of local ownership. And while these stores are a clear representation of the diversity of different cultures from around the world, the one thing that is common across all of them is their undeniable commitment to the customers and communities they serve.”


New to IGA: Innovation Awards

Ross presented the newly minted CEO’s Innovation Award to four retailers during the Global Rally.

“You may know that for the last 10 years I have been working as either a marketing or retail consultant for the biggest retail chains in the world,” Ross said. “I’ve been to stores all over the world, and seen the best of what the big national chains have to offer. Now, having visited retailers all over the IGA family, I can tell you that those national chains have nothing on the innovative programs our best IGA entrepreneurs are doing. That’s why I created the CEO’s award for innovation. We need to reward risk-taking, creative thinking and bold merchandising ideas. Grocery retailing and shopper expectations are changing so fast, and we need to innovative leadership faster than ever before! The first four retailers to win this new award are the perfect ambassadors to show the world that IGA is ready to lead the way in the innovative, fun and hyperlocal experiences shoppers want.”

IGA CEO's Innovation Awards
IGA Chairman Mark Batenic (far left) and IGA CEO John Ross (far right) present the CEO’s Innovation Award to, from left: Joe Romeo of Romeo’s Retail Group, Kurt Rodhe of Rodhe’s Marketplace, Ed Penta and Carl Penta of McKinnon’s Marketplace. (Not pictured: Greg King of California Fresh Brands.)

Innovation Award recipients include:

Joe Romeo

Romeo’s Retail Group

40 IGA stores across South Australia and New South Wales

Romeo Retail Group, a family-owned business run by Joe Romeo and family and operating in Australia’s toughest trade area, grew from 1 IGA in 2000 to 40 by making their stores the go-to place for unique, fresh offerings and deli items—particularly when it comes to special occasions and entertaining. Since adding a walk-in cheese room to their award-winning McLaren Vale Foodland IGA store and establishing regular wine and cheese tastings, cheese has become the store’s second biggest profit generator (behind produce).


Carl Penta and Ed Penta

McKinnon’s Supermarket & Super Butcher Shop

Portsmouth, New Hampshire

Brothers Ed and Carl Penta, owner of four McKinnon’s IGA stores in Massachusetts and Connecticut, pride themselves on providing the largest selection of meat in New England in their Portsmouth location. There’s a service counter for custom cuts of meat, but the bulk of the store’s sales on a day-to-day basis come from the 240-foot meat case, with quick and easy meal solutions like sirloin tips, stuffed pork chops, marinated chicken, and their own bottled sauces. Local pork and beef from Maine Family Farms is a huge draw, as is McKinnon’s Best Beef brands—lower-priced quality meats that the team finds by combing the Boston markets and beyond for the best deals.


Greg King

California Fresh Brands

Three IGA stores in California

With a large supermarket chain on almost every corner of his trade area, Greg King, owner of three IGA stores in central California, relies on fresh, from-scratch offerings and extensive sampling to create a point of difference. His store’s top selling items—like Grandma’s Potato Salad, artisanal sourdough and house-smoked meats—are produced onsite from the stores’ own recipes. Extensive sampling of the stores’ rotating menus and innovative promotions designed to educate shoppers about local foods make shopping a fun, family-focused event.


Kurt Rodhe

Rodhe’s Marketplace IGA

Millersburg, Ohio

As a third-generation IGA retailer with one of the longest standing IGA stores in the world, Kurt Rodhe attributes his family’s continued success to his willingness to change along with his customers’ changing needs. Recognizing that his shoppers were looking for a partner to help them make better choices for healthier lifestyles, Rodhe hired a full-time, certified natural health professional to place a focus on health and expand the store’s wellness product offerings, boosting sales throughout the store and establishing a true differentiation in his marketplace.


About the author

Lorrie Griffith

Lorrie began covering the supermarket and foodservice industries at Shelby Publishing in 1988, an English major fresh out of the University of Georgia. She began as an editorial assistant/proofreader (and continues to proofread everything, everywhere, in spite of herself). She spent three-plus decades with Shelby in various editorial roles, and after a detour into business development, rejoined Shelby in June 2024. "It's good to be back covering the greatest industry in the world," she says.

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