A retail rockstar from Stratford has checked in to first place in a regional competition.
Stratford New World's Kate Marshall-Smith was named winner of the Taranaki region Foodstuffs North Island annual Checker of the Year competition on Wednesday last week, earning her a place in the North Island finals later this year.
Dan and Rebecca Harris, who own and operate Stratford New World, say they are delighted with the win.
"The Stratford New World team always give 100 per cent and this clearly shows," says Dan.
Kate is no stranger to the regional competition, having previously come first in 2018 and second in 2019.
The 2019 regional final was dominated by the Stratford New World team, says Rebecca.
"That year we actually had our team take out the top three places, and another come sixth which was amazing."
In 2018, Kate went on to win second place in the North Island final, and says she is looking forward to this year's final, as she enjoys the opportunity to have her skills tested.
The outcome of the final is decided by mystery shoppers, who will visit each regional winner in their home store to determine the overall North Island Checker of the Year champion, to be announced at the Foodstuffs North Island Excellence Awards.
Kate normally works two days a week at Stratford New World, balancing work with her role as a busy mum to two preschoolers.
"Dan and Rebecca are really supportive when it comes to balancing children and work. I still feed my youngest before bed, and they work it so I can do that around my shifts which is really great."
Rebecca says being parents themselves helps Dan and her when it comes to creating that work-life balance for their employees.
"It's a case of been there, done that. We know how hard it can be in those early years and we also know we have loyal, hard-working employees who understand time management."
Rebecca says entrants are tested on a range of skills, from speed and accuracy to customer service.
"For us, customer service is the most important, and it is something we are very proud of our staff for doing so well. It's their customer service that ensures our customers come back time and time again, and that really is the most important thing. Kate and all the other staff here really do put the customer first and it's great to have that recognised."
Kate wasn't the only Stratford New World checker to be in the top 10 this year, she was joined by Lydia Barber in 10th place, says Rebecca.
"Our supporters also did an excellent job, we filled a bus with staff members and family to go the event and cheer our entrants on. They obviously did a great job as we won the prize for the best supporting team on the night as well."