Mandy Kaur (24) came home from the Foodstuffs Checker of the Year Lower North Island competition with the trophy, having been announced the overall winner on Saturday night at an event in Wellington.
Craig Waite, one of the owner operators of Stratford's New World, says, "It was not really a surprise to us, we all know Mandy is really good and she certainly deserved to win." He added, "Either of the two young women who competed, Mandy Kaur and Sharlika Wilson, could have taken out the title, they are both fantastic workers, team members and great people."
Mandy herself is modest about her win, saying it is largely part to having "great support from Craig, Melissa, Jimmy, Jackie, Aaron and Donna the owner operators, and Fiona Riddick the checkout team leader".
Craig describes Mandy as being "a great asset to us here at Stratford New World, who we are pleased to have as part of our team". He adds, "She is popular amongst all our staff as well as our customers."
Mandy qualified for the competition, having taken second place in the Foodstuffs Taranaki checker of the year competition in September, and she travelled to Wellington with her colleague Sharlika Wilson who was the first place winner in that event.
This time it was Mandy who took out the first place, with Craig saying that all of the staff "are extremely proud of both Sharlika and Mandy for making it into the top three from Taranaki".
The entrants were judged by a mystery shopper who came into their store in the weeks prior to the final event in Wellington, judging them on their friendliness, efficiency, customer service and general manner when dealing with the customer as well as specific rules such as "not putting smellies in with food items", says Mandy.
Then, on the night of the finals, the contestants had to scan 30 items in a time trial of just 50 seconds. After this, the judges agreed on the winner and runner up.
Mandy says that within minutes of having been named the winner, she started receiving congratulatory texts and phone calls from her colleagues back in Stratford and was still riding high on the feeling of success when she started her first shift back in the supermarket on Monday.
The trophy has only once before been won by a local store, that was in 2006 when it was won by a checkout operator from Inglewood's Shoprite.
Mandy started working at New World in Stratford at the start of this year, after moving down to the area from Rotorua where she worked in another supermarket. "Since leaving school, I have always worked in either a supermarket or dairy," she says, adding that she has found this job to be the most enjoyable and for that reason, she has no plans to leave in the near future. "I like what I do, I like where I work and I like the customers," she says adding, "All the people here are really nice, the customers in Stratford are the best ever."