Rotorua checkout operator at Westend New World Checker of the Year regional winner

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A Rotorua checkout operator has been named a regional winner after her checkout customer service was described as “the whole package” by a judge.

Eshini Gunarathna, a checkout operator at Westend New World, was announced the regional winner for Foodstuffs North Island Checker of the Year recently.

Checker of the Year is a competition to find the top checkout operator from New World, Pak’nSave and Four Square stores across the North Island.

Eshini says she felt great and shocked when she was announced as first place winner.

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She thinks it is “so cool” that checkout operators are able to get this sort of experience through their work.

She says you have to treat the competition like it is any other day and ignore the crowd of people there – “It’s kind of nerve-racking”.

When asked what makes a good checkout operator, Eshini had said being kind to people and having great customer service.

Checkout manager Kayla McDonnell, who placed 10th in the regional competition, says she saw Eshini’s reaction to being announced first place – “I watched your reaction, you were so shocked”.

She says the competition involves scanning and separating items with speed while holding a conversation with the judge.

There are also always some curveballs thrown at them to put on the pressure, such as items which will not scan.

Kayla says a mystery shopper will now come into the store at some stage to secretly assess Eshini, buying items like a normal customer, and that is how the overall winner for the North Island will be judged.

This year Westend New World also won Best Dressed. The theme was “Legends” and Rotorua’s New World staff did the love story of Hinemoa and Tutanekai.

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“We wanted to tie it to Rotorua specifically.”

(From left) Westend New World's Checker of the Year regional winner Eshini Gunarathna, with Sheryl Kivell and Kayla McDonnell. Photo / Shauni James
(From left) Westend New World’s Checker of the Year regional winner Eshini Gunarathna, with Sheryl Kivell and Kayla McDonnell. Photo / Shauni James

Human resources manager Debs Eggers says this is a prestigious award and one of excellence for Eshini.

She says there were more than 120 contestants at the regional event last Wednesday.

“We are just so proud of everyone who participated from our store.”

Checkout supervisor Sheryl Kivell says the Checker of the Year competition gives the younger checkout operators something to look up to and aspire to.

She says they have regular customers who come through just to see them and a lot of customers come in to have a conversation.

“We’ve got elderly who come in and it’s the highlight of their day.”

In 2013, Westend New World dominated the regional competition taking out 11th, 9th, 8th, 7th, 3rd and 1st.

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