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NEW YORK — Supermarket News will recognize two retail companies and a marketing executive in an inaugural awards presentation during Friends of the Industry's seventh annual dinner on Jan. 22 at the Pavilion at the Phoenician Hotel and Resort, Scottsdale, Ariz.

The Champion of Diversity award will be presented to a food retailing company for excellence in building a diverse workforce and an environment that promotes equality of opportunity for all employees regardless of gender, race, ethnicity or disability. The Marketer of the Year award will be given to an executive who has led an innovative and successful campaign boasting recognition of a product, category or distinctive elements of the store as a brand.

The third award is presented to a retail company for excellence in community service by its involvement in community, education and nonprofit fund-raising efforts. This will mark the third time SN has recognized a retailer for community service. The previous two winners were United Supermarkets, Lubbock, Texas, and Giant Eagle, Pittsburgh.

The names of the winners will be revealed in SN's Jan. 23 issue and spotlighted in special editorial coverage. The issue will be distributed at the conference. Winners were selected based upon online nominations in conjunction with input from SN editors and industry consultants.

Bill Kies, principal, Kies Consulting, Chicago, who co-founded the dinner and now manages it, said the awards element enhances the event and honors recipients in front of a large industry audience.

The dinner, which brings retailers, wholesalers and their suppliers together for what Kies described as the industry's kick-off social event of the year, is also a contributor to education and scholarship programs. This year, dinner co-sponsors raised about $100,000 for FMI member companies and associations for scholarships and continuing education activities. More than $250,000 has been distributed by Friends of the Industry co-sponsors since the dinner was launched.

This year's primary sponsors include: Source Interlink Companies, Kraft, McCormick, ACNielsen, Accenture, Musco, Spar Group, Storecast Merchandising Corp., Hallmark, Hershey's, PepsiCo, Diageo, Kimberly-Clark, Smucker's, Catalina Marketing, Nestle Purina, Wrigley and ConAgra Foods, as well as Kies Consulting.

Bonnie Mcelveen-Hunter, chairman of the American Red Cross, will be the guest of honor at this year's dinner.

TAGS: SN Awards