It's official. Stratford New World has the fastest and friendliest checkers in Taranaki.
On Thursday night last week, checkout operators from Foodstuff Taranaki stores competed against each other and the clock, in the annual Foodstuffs Taranaki regional Checker of the Year competition.
In what Stratford New World store owner Dan Harris calls "an unheard of" result, his team took out the three top spots.
Brooke Millar took the first place slot, ahead of colleagues Kate Marshall-Smith in second and Alyssa Smith in third.
"Another member of our great check-out team, Lea nah Skilling, came sixth, so we really did have plenty of our team on the winners podium," says Dan.
Dan and wife Rebecca have owned and operated the New World store for three years, and say they are both delighted with their teams success at the competition.
"We do pride ourselves on the great customer service our team all give," says Rebecca.
"We value our customers, and making sure our check-out team is skilled, friendly and efficient is a key part of that. We are really pleased with how well the team did at the competition."
Winner Brooke will compete in the North Island final. The judging for this is done by mystery shoppers with the result announced in March next year.
"Once you are actually on the stage competing, you are just focused, so you don't really think about the win as such," says Brooke, who has worked at the store for three years.
She has entered the competition each year, last year getting third place.
"I'm really pleased to win, and think it shows what great training we have here at Stratford New World."
It's not the first time someone from the Stratford store has won the regional competition, with second place getter this year, Kate, having been in the top spot last year.
Kate says making the top three this year was a huge surprise, especially as she has only just returned from maternity leave in June.
"I really enjoy my job, but didn't really think I would get second place this year, after having only just come back to work."
For Alyssa Smith, putting in the hours at her part time job has paid off.
Alyssa is also a reporter for the Stratford Press, but when she took on that role this year she decided to stay working at New World as well.
"I have worked for Dan and Rebecca for two years and really enjoy it. I only do a few hours a week now, but still love it."
She says a smile and friendly attitude is just as important as speed when it comes to customer service, something Rebecca says all three winners excel in.
"I noticed all three of them were friendly with the judges as they competed, and that's what we encourage every day here. To be friendly and helpful and always give the best service you can."
Dan says he, Rebecca and the team at Stratford New World are all delighted with the wins.
"I think it is a good reflection of our team as a whole here. We really do have the very best staff in Taranaki."