The Sales Assistant of the Year Awards 2016 ceremony was an emotional and proud day for five very hard-working women.

However, it was Tracie Horner, of Spar Carrowdore, in Northern Ireland, who was revealed as the overall winner of the Sales Assistant of the Year 2016 title during the grand ceremony at The Dorchester hotel in London on November 8.

Tracie, who was also the Forecourt Sector winner, was chosen by the judges on the day because of her personal charm and commitment to customer service, as well as her contribution to the store’s business success and her capacity to embrace change with enthusiasm.

Tracie is often the first member of staff that customers see when they enter the store and she sets herself the challenge each day of making sure every customer she serves leaves the shop with a smile on their face.

Under her supervision she has managed to increase sales and reduce wastage in the store’s crucial fresh produce department, and is already involved in planning how the section will evolve when the store is being enlarged and converted to become a Eurospar.

After being awarded the grand prize of £1,000 during the lunch event hosted by Convenience Store and compered by comedian Ellie Taylor, Tracie said: “I couldn’t believe it when they called out my name. All the other finalists were such lovely girls and all were very worthy winners.

“This has been just a wonderful event, from the lovely people, to all the attention to detail in looking after me; the whole experience has been wonderful, and to win this award is just the icing on the cake.

“I’m also proud that I’ve put the tiny village of Carrowdore on the map!”

Tracie added that her customers will be very pleased to hear that the ‘redhead from the local shop’, as they know her, has won an award. “I like to make sure that people get everything they want when they come to the shop and leave feeling happy. I hope that I can continue to keep putting smiles on customers’ faces.”

Speaking of the challenge ahead with Spar’s expansion, Tracie said: “It’s going to look fantastic when it’s all finished and we will have all our freestanding fridges where I can display seasonal specials such as strawberries and cream. It’s a bit daunting right now as the section is being moved around, but I know it’s going to be great.”

As well as taking on business challenges with a smile, Tracie throws herself into any community initiatives. She recently spent the day dressed as a ‘ginger ninja’ as part of the store’s fundraising efforts.

On being asked what her advice would be to any other sales assistants, Tracie said: “Keep smiling, because when you smile the world smiles back at you, and treat others as you would expect to be treated yourself and you’ll be sure to do well.”