The five category winners of the 2014 Sales Assistant of the Year awards have been chosen.

While coming from far and wide, each of the five individuals displays outstanding customer service, an unshakeable work ethic and a range of innovative ideas - helping to boost their stores and local communities.

Category winners

Anita Nye – Eldred Drive Stores (Premier) Orpington (Independent)

Stewart Harkin – Eurospar Cullybackey, Ballymena (Multiple symbol)

Sarah Hayton - Lakes and Dales Co-operative, Keswick (Co-operative)

Irene Hunter – Eurospar Dromara (Forecourt sector)

Amy Carr – Mccolls Meols, Hoylake (Multiple)

Independent sector category winner Anita Nye has been an invaluable member of the team at Eldred Drive Stores (Premier) since she started work there 27 years ago.

Store owner Raju Patel said he would have been “lost without” Anita’s support over the years and especially during its recent extension and transition to a Premier, when she worked beyond her hours, sometimes past midnight, to help get the store get ready for opening. Anita’s flair for design also helps to create a range of in-store USPs from her seasonal decorations to her hand-made cards of which she has sold almost 300.

Multiple Symbol category winner Stewart Harkin has worked his way up the ranks at Eurospar Cullybackey, Northern Ireland, to become the store’s customer service champion. His dedication to the role has seen him introduce a raft of service and business-boosting initiatives, from new staff uniforms to sampling campaigns. Since taking on responsibility for the store’s bread section, sales have grown 12%. Community engagement is another of his strengths and Stewart is responsible for organising the store’s calender of events including a community quiz night this week.

Sarah Hayton of the Lakes and Dales Co-operative in Keswick, Cumbria, is the Co-operative Sector winner. An integral part of the team and local community, Sarah routinely goes above and beyond the call of duty to assist her local customers, making home deliveries in her own time, visiting elderly or infirm shoppers and even baking wedding cakes for local customers.

The Forecourt Sector winner is Irene Hunter of Eurospar Dromara, Northern Ireland. Irene’s flair for service and sales boosting initiatives have had an immensely positive impact on the store over the past nine years. Her idea to sample the store’s Product of The Week has helped it soar up the company’s internal rankings, while cigarette sales are up 12% after she implemented a keener focus on availability and price marked packs. Irene’s commitment to charitable causes is also noteworthy and she raised more than £2,500 for Alzheimer’s and Dementia after asking for donations rather than birthday presents when she turned 50.

Amy Carr is the Multiple Sector winner. Manager Julie Murray of McColls, Meols, Hoylake, praised Amy’s enthusiasm for heightening in-store atmosphere and service in the 18 months that she has worked there. Her handmade gift cards have also created a talking point and footfall driver, while her calm and collected manner was a “godsend” during the store’s transition to a Post Office Local store.

The five category winners now face one final round of judging before the overall Sales Assistant of The Year 2014 is crowned on 11 November at a sumptuous lunch at London’s Dorchester hotel.

The overall winner will claim a £1,000 prize while each of the category winners will receive £500 plus £250 for the Community Hero.

The awards are supported by JTI, Mars Chocolate, Coca-Cola Enterprises, P&G and the Post Office.