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Market Watch Honors Nation’s Top Retailers At Awards Dinner In New York

September 18, 2015

Market Watch magazine toasted the drinks industry’s brightest retail stars last night at its annual Leaders Awards Dinner at the St. Regis Roof in New York.

Ron Junge, owner of Springfield, Missouri-based Brown Derby Stores and a 1987 Market Watch Leader, was named Retailer of the Year. Junge, who has run Brown Derby since 1979, is credited with putting his state’s beverage alcohol market on the map. His 18-store operation posted sales of $30 million last year, about evenly split between spirits, wine and beer.

Eight new Market Watch Leaders also were honored at last night’s dinner: Diana Hirst of Hi-Time Wine Cellars in Costa Mesa, California; Kenneth Lee of Las Vegas-based Lee’s Discount Liquor; Saurabh Abrol of Wine Chateau in New Jersey; Veronica Litton of Florida’s Crown Wine and Spirits; Robert Mariano of Chicago-area retailer Mariano’s; and partners Stephen Downes, Jim Valentine and Jim Ransford of the four-unit CT Beverage Mart chain in Connecticut.

Four Market Watch Leaders Alumni were recognized for their contributions to the industry. Stew Leonard of tristate retailer Stew Leonard’s Wines won the honor for Best Merchandising, while Joe Doust and Andrew Lebamoff, co-owners of Indiana-based Cap n’ Cork, took home the Best Advertising award. This year’s accolade for Best Website went to Josh, Morgan and Romulus Hammond of Tennessee-based Buster’s Liquors, while Austin Keith of Texas retailer Pinkie’s was honored in absentia with the Community Service award.

The Leaders Awards Dinner also saluted some standouts at the supplier tier. Bryan Fry, who has served as president and CEO of Pernod Ricard since 2012, was named Industry Executive of the Year. Hennessy Cognac won the award for Spirits Brand of the Year, while Josh Cellars from Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits was named Wine Brand of the Year. The award for Beer Brand of the Year went to Michelob Ultra from Anheuser-Busch.

On the innovation front, Diageo’s Crown Royal Regal Apple took home the award for Best New Spirits Product, while Treasury Wine Estates’ 19 Crimes label was named Best New Wine Product. The Best New Beer Product prize went to Miller Fortune from MillerCoors.

Profiles of all 2015 Market Watch Leaders and Alumni Award winners will be available at Marketwatchmag.com, and a full report on the Market Watch Leaders Awards Dinner will appear in the November issue of Market Watch magazine.

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