Auckland’s ‘rock star’ supermarket checkers named

Emma Cleary from New World Botany took out first place. Photo supplied

Over the last week, 265 checkout operators from New World, PAK’nSAVE and Four Square stores across the Auckland region took to the tills onstage to compete for the chance to be named Checker of the Year in Foodstuffs North Island’s annual competition.

The heats were held in Auckland Central and South regions at the Vodafone Events Centre on 4 and 5 July, and in the Auckland North region at the QBE Stadium Function Centre on 10 July.

The checkers were judged by a team of eight senior Foodstuffs staff on their speed, presentation, customer service and accuracy as they scanned 30 items as quickly as possible, while also staying friendly and composed.

The top three checkers from Auckland Central were Mels Tautaina from New World Eastridge in first place, Gurwinder Kaur from New World Howick in second place, and Joshua Brickel from PAK’nSAVE Sylvia Park in third.

The top three checkers from Auckland South were Emma Cleary from New World Botany in first place, Sam Gray from PAK’nSAVE Pukekohe in second place, and Philip Johnstone from New World Papakura in third.

The top three checkers from Auckland North were Mandeep Kaur from Four Square Fair Price Swanson in first place, Shanay Howard from PAK’nSAVE Wairau in second place, and Jemma Knapp Spens-Black from New World Warkworth in third.

Foodstuffs North Island CEO Chris Quin said the company has run its Checker of the Year competition for decades, and it is an annual highlight for staff right across the business.

“It’s a great opportunity for us to recognise and celebrate the contribution our checkout operators make on the front-line of our business every day.

“Our checkers are the face of our business and their customer service skills are crucial to our success in meeting the expectations of our customers. The annual Checker of the Year competition is about acknowledging their skills and creating some friendly rivalry between stores,” he said.

While the competition is taken seriously by the competitors, the event also provides an opportunity for them and their supporters to have some fun.

With a ‘rock star’ theme this year, competitors’ colleagues, family and friends donned rock star outfits and cheered them on with banners, chants and store mascots.

The top twelve checkers from each Auckland region received a $50 gift card, with the top three finalists winning extra prizes. There were also prizes for the best dressed team, best supporting teams and best air guitar solo.

As the winners of the Auckland region heats, Mels Tautaina, Emma Cleary, and Mandeep Kaur will go on to compete against the winners of the seven other regional heats held over June-July. Each regional winner will be mystery shopped three times between August and November to determine the overall North Island Checker of the Year winner and two runners-up, which will be announced at the Foodstuffs North Island Excellence Awards in November.