This week over 150 checkout operators from New World, PAK’nSAVE and Four Square stores across the Bay of Plenty and Manawatu regions went till-to-till in Foodstuffs North Island’s 70th annual Checker of the Year competition, which has attracted a record number of entries this year.

The Bay of Plenty region’s top three checkers at the event on Monday night was Elle Coker from New World Brookfield in first place, Indiana Price from New World Gate Pa in second place, and Aimee Watene from New World Gate Pa in third.

Tuesday night saw checkers compete in New Plymouth, and the Manawatu region’s top three checkers were Kate Marshall-Smith from New World Stratford in first place, Katana Price from New World New Plymouth in second place, and Brooke Millar from New World Stratford in third.

The checkers competed on stage against one another while being judged by a team of six senior Foodstuffs staff. Checkers were assessed on their speed, presentation, customer service and accuracy as they scanned 30 items as quickly as possible, while also staying friendly and composed.

Foodstuffs North Island CEO Chris Quin said this competition celebrates the skills of those who are at the front-line of the public’s experience of their local supermarkets.

“Our checkout operators are the face of our business, and this event is an opportunity to shine the spotlight on them and show our sincere appreciation for the contribution they make every day to our success in meeting customer expectations.

“The fact that this is the 70th anniversary of the competition, and that it is bigger than ever before with over 120 stores participating, reflects the value that our staff see in it. It gets quite competitive, but is also a chance to have fun and build relationships,” said Mr Quin.

When it began in 1948, it was known as the ‘Listing and Adding’ competition and was a maths-based challenge requiring checkers to add the prices of items manually. Reflecting the changes over the years since then, the competition has evolved to focus on a broader range of skills.

With a ‘blast from the past’ theme this year, competitors’ colleagues, family, and friends dressed up to reflect a decade of their choice from the past 70 years, cheering the competing checkers on with banners, chants and store mascots.

The top twelve checkers each received Prezzy cards, with the top three finalists winning extra prizes. There were also prizes for best-dressed team, best-supporting team and top scoring store.

As the winner of the regional heats, Elle Coker and Kate Marshall-Smith will go on to compete against the winners of the nine other regional heats held over June-July. Each regional winner will be mystery shopped between August and November to determine the overall North Island Checker of the Year winner and two runners-up, which will be announced in November.