Information Resources Inc. (IRI), Chicago, named Richard Hurst to the newly created position of practice leader of IRI’s beer, wine, spirits and tobacco vertical. Hurst will report directly to Piyush Chaudhari, president of the Americas for IRI.

“Richard is an ideal fit for this role given his 35 years of experience and extensive background in the industry, both in the United States and internationally,” Chaudhari said in a statement. “He brings a proven track record in strategy and portfolio development, mergers and acquisitions, and driving major change for leading corporations in the beverage alcohol and information services industries. His work has consistently contributed to improved practice area results and accelerated levels of growth.”

Prior to joining IRI, Hurst spent several years as an independent consultant to beverage alcohol clients, most recently with New York-based Möet Hennessy USA, the U.S. wine and spirits division of LVMH Möet Hennessy Louis Vuitton. Other assignments focused on the development of “new world” wines and other alcohol beverages in the United States and globally.

From 2006 to 2009, Hurst served as senior vice president of beverage alcohol at The Nielsen Co., New York. In that role, he oversaw all of Nielsen’s beverage alcohol activities and its relationships with more than 150 suppliers and distributors of beer, wine and spirits. He joined Nielsen as a result of the sale of Beverage Data Network LLC, of which he was president, to Nielsen. Beverage Data Network was a leading U.S. processor of wine and spirits wholesaler sales data.

Hurst spent the majority of his career with Norwalk, Conn.-based Diageo, rising to senior vice president of corporate strategy. During the course of 25 years, Hurst played key roles in developing Diageo’s strategy for strengthening the company’s relationships with its U.S. distributors, as well as charting the course for acquisitions and alliances around the world.

“I am confident that, under Richard’s leadership, IRI’s beer, wine, spirits and tobacco business will achieve great success in the coming years, building upon our already strong foundation,” Chaudhari added.