Sheena Whitehouse from Springisland Supermarket, Coalisland, was crowned best sales assistant in the UK at the Sales Assistant of the Year Awards 2013, which took place yesterday at The Dorchester Hotel in London on 12 November.

The national competition, organised by Convenience Store magazine, celebrates the very best that the neighbourhood retail sector has to offer in terms of customer service, community interaction, and business achievement.

Sheena impressed the judges with the tremendous list of tasks and daily achievements she manages on a day-to-day basis, as well as her ability to use her initiative to take the business forward. She looks after a large team of 30 checkout operators and has introduced an appraisal scheme to monitor the progress of staff and help keep them motivated.

She devised her own customer survey to ensure that Springisland was meeting local customer needs, which led to the introduction of new ranges and a home delivery service. She also used her initiative to successfully apply for the entire store to start accepting Healthy Start Vouchers to provide young families with healthy food, and has built links with the community by working closely with a local youth club and schools in the area.

“Sheena has wowed the judges with her tremendous commitment to customer service, creating a friendly and efficient atmosphere in store and positive engagement with the local community,” said Convenience Store editor David Rees. “As Sales Assistant of the Year 2013 she is a role model to sales assistants everywhere.”

Sheena was awarded £500 in prize money for reaching the final, and a further £500 for being the overall winner. “It feels brilliant that all my hard work has paid off,” she beamed. “Our customers will be delighted and it will show the other sales assistants in the store that they can win competitions like this.”

To win the competition, Sheena had to submit a written entry, before a judging visit and face-to-face interview were carried out at her workplace. Sheena then went forward to the final as the best sales assistant in the independent sector and was interviewed by a judging panel on the morning of the awards along with three other sector winners before being awarded with the trophy at a lunchtime ceremony at The Dorchester hotel.