Retail Excellence from Around the World

Feb 28, 2019

IGA celebrated the best of the independent grocery industry at the IGA Awards of Excellence Brunch at the San Diego Air & Space Museum. Offering a glimpse into retailing practices of some of the world's most successful retailers, the event served as a welcome reminder that innovation is thriving in independent grocery retailing—and nowhere is that more obvious than in the shopping experiences provided by our 2019 Retailer Awards of Excellence winners. 

Celebrating IGA’s 2019 Hometown Proud Retailers

IGA honored four IGA USA Hometown Proud retailers at the Awards of Excellence Brunch, each put forward by their IGA wholesalers as their top IGA retailer for 2019. 

Take a look at what these winning retailers have to say about differentiating through independence, building successful relationships with associates, the importance of family business, and meeting shopper needs in a constantly evolving marketplace. 



Click here to learn more about our 2019 IGA Hometown Proud Retailers

From those award-winning IGA Hometown Proud Retailers, the IGA team had the difficult task of choosing one IGA USA International Retailer of the Year.  

As IGA CEO John Ross put it, “Narrowing the IGA Hometown Proud Retailer winners circle down to a single IGA USA International Retailer of the Year is never an easy process. We’re talking about the top performers among the 30,000 independent retailers in the U.S. This is the industry’s retailing elite, and clearly they are all winners in their own right. We couldn’t be prouder of the way they are using their local distinction to provide the personalized service and experiences that set them apart in the communities they serve.”

IGA’s 2019 International Retailers of the Year

The judging process for IGA USA International Retailer of the Year began in the fall of 2018, when Ross, IGA Vice President Doug Fritsch, and last year’s International Retailers of the Year—Gary and Terrie Baker of Baker’s IGA—visited each of the candidates’ stores to get a feel for how they are serving the shoppers of their communities. In the end, Gary & Leo’s Laura Malisani was chosen as IGA USA International Retailer of the Year, joining a winner’s circle of global retailers chosen within their own countries. 


 Left to right: IGA Chairman Mark Batenic; Abu Khatib; Mr. Zhang Yong; 
Laura Malisani; Jarrod Swaine; Lucas Allan; Suhail Bayat; Mal Cameron; IGA CEO John Ross

Click here to learn more about our 2019 IGA International Retailers of the Year

IGA’s 2019 International Retailers of the Year represent the best the retailing world has to offer: a trio of Australian retailers who use specialty and local products to differentiate in a difficult marketplace; South African retailers setting their stores apart with exciting promotions, competitive pricing, and community commitment; a Chinese retailer promoting healthier lifestyles to a growing middle class; and our American winner, a second generation retailer focused on building lasting relationships that build shopper loyalty.

Gary & Leo's IGA: A Winning Culture of Family, Friends & Food

Laura Maisani grew up working in the family’s Gary & Leo’s grocery store learning valuable business lessons from her father, Gary, and his business partner, Leo. Today Laura, her husband John, and their business partner Tracy own three Gary and Leo’s Fresh Foods IGA locations, including the award-winning Havre store known for its commitment to local products and high-quality offerings.

With lots of stand-out features to keep shoppers coming back, Gary & Leo’s Havre is the primary grocery destination in the area. Their scratch bakery makes some of the most delicious on-premise baked goods of any store in the state. The deli serves a wide selection of ready-to-eat meals—most made daily using their own unique family recipes and local ingredients. A full-service coffee bar at the front of the store invites shoppers to slow down, talk with friends, and enjoy their shopping experience.

And yet, for Laura, the store’s true distinction is their commitment to service and relationship building. She insists that their Family, Friends and Food tagline is more than just an advertising slogan—it describes a culture rooted in generations of families and friends working together to bring value to everyone involved—the business, employees, and of course, the shoppers. The end result is a welcoming place at the heart of the community, where people from diverse backgrounds live, work, and shop together.

 Just like her dad used to say: “You can feel good about selling people something they need at a fair price. Treat people well, help when you can, and it is a good life.”

Want to know more about the Awards of Excellence winners honored at the IGA Global Rally Awards of Excellence Brunch? Visit



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