It's quite something to be named as the best in the country at what you do, and that's what happened to Angela Gillebrand of United Co-op last October, when she became Sales Assistant of the Year 2005.
The search for this year's top sales assistant starts here. It could be you, or a member of your staff, who walks away with this year's prize, which will be presented at an awards luncheon at a London venue in November.
There is £3,000-worth of prize money up for grabs, with £500 for the winner of each of the independent, multiple, symbol and forecourt categories, and an extra £1,000 for the overall winner, plus two tickets for one of the retail industry's top bashes, the Candy Ball 2007.
On finals day last year, Angela impressed the judges with her energy, enthusiasm, knowledge and professionalism, and being named as the winner has had a huge impact on her.
"Winning has made me feel better about myself - it's a pat on the back for all the work I've done," she says.
"There was a story in the local newspaper after the competition so a lot of people saw that and came in to congratulate me. I still get comments like 'Had any luck winning prizes lately?' I was amazed at how the news got around. Suppliers and delivery drivers still recognise me - someone came in just the other day to take a photo."
But it was not just personally that Angela benefited; it also gave her an extra incentive to improve at work. She says: "Winning has made me take even more of an interest in my job, because you want to get better and better. When I won I was working on the produce section, and you don't want your veg looking a mess - you've got to stick to your standards otherwise people will ask how I won with veg looking like that."
Above all, the competition has left Angela with a lot of happy memories. "On the day I was a bit worried and it was nerve-wracking going into the interview, but once you get in there and the judges start asking questions you forget all about the nerves," she recalls. "The day in London was fantastic. I love London so that was a nice treat."
Now is the time for the new search to begin. Claim your entry pack by post or telephone, and fill in the questions on the official entry form. These will then be evaluated by a panel from Convenience Store and representatives from three of the
c-store industry's biggest and best suppliers - Masterfoods, Gallaher and P&G - who are official sponsors of Sales Assistant of the Year 2006.
A shortlist will be drawn up and each semi-finalist will be visited in their own working environment, with the four category winners invited to London for final judging and lunch at a top London venue, where the finalists will receive their cheques and trophies and the overall winner will be announced.
The last words belong to last year's winner Angela. "I would advise anyone thinking about entering to go for it," she says. "It is a bit nerve-wracking but you really enjoy yourself when you're there. And you get treated fantastically."
So, what are you waiting for?


Overall Sales Assistant of the Year £1,000
Independent Sales Assistant of the Year £500
Multiple Sales Assistant of the Year £500
Symbol Sales Assistant of the Year £500
Forecourt Sales Assistant of the Year £500