After a national search for the 2005 Sales Assistant of the Year, an outstanding winner has been found.

Angela Gillebrand, who has worked at the United
Co-operative Store in Timperley, Cheshire for six years, has won the coveted Sales Assistant of the Year Award 2005, organised by Convenience Store magazine. She wins £1,500, a stunning glass trophy and a certificate to display back at her store.

The awards final and celebratory lunch, sponsored by Danone, Gallaher, Masterfoods, Procter & Gamble and The Wrigley Company, was held at the world-famous Bluebird restaurant in London’s trendy Kings Road.
It took place during National Customer Care Week and was hosted by ITV’s GMTV presenter, Kate Garraway. Smile Stores’ chief executive Jeremy Symonds welcomed guests and finalists to the lunch, and in his speech stressed the importance of customer care and sales assistants in ensuring continued growth for the convenience grocery market.

Angela impressed the final panel of judges, chaired by Convenience Store editor Sonia Young, with her energy, product knowledge and professionalism. “It was very clear that her dedication to driving sales, training and customer care has made a real difference to profitability at the store,” said Young.

“Angela’s enthusiasm shone through, from her entry form right through to the final. She gets involved in all aspects of her store, whether taking her licensing exams, studying for her NVQs in her own time, or overseeing the fresh produce section where sales have soared by 45% since she took over.”

“It’s a dream,” said Angela, who works 7am to 3.30pm, Monday to Friday. “All my colleagues couldn’t wait to congratulate me and United Co-op bought me a huge bouquet of flowers. I haven’t come back down to earth yet. I even had to travel down to Stoke on Trent over the weekend to show my mum the trophy - she was crying!”

The overall Sales Assistant of the Year Award was this year sponsored by Gallaher. Angela reached the finals as winner of the Multiple Sales Assistant of the Year category, which was sponsored by Danone.

Forecourt Sales Assistant of the Year, sponsored by Wrigley, was awarded to Marilyn Nutley of the Three Elms BP/Spar Service Station in Hadlow, Kent.
She said: “I’m so thrilled to reach the finals and to win the forecourt category. It’s wonderful to be recognised and rewarded for doing our job - and a job I love.”
Marilyn impressed the judges with her commitment, vivacity and wide-ranging skills, whether suggesting ways to increase sales of locally-sourced strawberries, or running and organising the site’s Macmillan charity coffee morning.

Marilyn works shifts at the site, eight hours a day, and has worked there for nearly five years. She won £500 and received a special framed certificate.

Morwen Williams, a finalist in the 2004 awards, won the Independent Sales Assistant of the Year category, sponsored by Masterfoods. Morwen works at Sarah’s Newsagents, a bustling village store at Maenclochog, Pembrokeshire.

A vital cog in the family-owned business with its staff of three, Morwen takes charge of the store while owner Sarah Eynon does the cash and carry runs, and in the past year has overseen the installation of Chip & Pin, eftpos and an ATM. Her warm, calm and welcoming approach keeps the customers coming back time and again and is also appreciated by the many tourists who pop in during the summer months.

“My family are so happy and the customers are delighted. We all celebrated with a few glasses of Champagne when I got back to the store,” said Morwen. Morwen travelled home with a cheque for £500 and a certificate.

Neal Turner, who works at Everydays (Londis) at the Butlins Family Entertainment Centre at Skegness, Lincolnshire, was triumphant in the Symbol Sales Assistant of the Year category, sponsored by Procter & Gamble.

Neal, who is in charge of the store’s bakery section, has worked at Everydays for 18 months and has already won an Employee of the Month award, beating 1,000 others working at the Butlins centre to the title.
“My bosses are all really pleased,” said Neal. “I think I might spend my £500 prize money on driving lessons.
“I had such a good time staying in London. I would like to thank all of the sponsors of the awards and the magazine for appreciating the job that we do.

“My certificate is already hanging on the wall next to my Employee of the Month award.

At the awards lunch Convenience Store publishing director John Lewis confirmed: “At a time when anti-social behaviour is such a concern for both government and communities, sales assistants really are in the front line on this, often called upon to move on youngsters, apprehend and deal with shoplifters and ensure no under-age sales are made. Their role within communities cannot be overstated.

“The job of sales assistants has become much harder and more demanding.

“We are delighted to continue this very special and unique event and, of course, to have seen such excellent finalists.”