A popular Hartlepool convenience store has been named as one of the top 100 independent outlets in the country.
Burn Valley Stores in the town has scooped the Independent Achievers Academy honour following a rigorous inspection process which took place over a number of months earlier this year.
“In my opinion this is an excellent opportunity to prove our team spirit.”Shan Sandanarajah
Staff are now celebrating the news and have vowed to keep up the good work.
Six people are employed at the site.
Owner of the shop Shan Sandanarajah told the Mail: “This is an incredible achievement for me and my team.
“Several stores participated in UK and Ireland and we are one of the top 100 retailers to achieve this award.
“The selection process commenced in May followed by many mystery shopper visits and an in depth assessment with an independent expert in the store in August.
“There were so many fact finding missions before declaring eligibility to participate in this rewarding competition.”
Among the criteria shops are assessed on for the ranking are customer service, shop layout and cleanliness, stock range, promotional offers and merchandising as well as staff attitude and presentation.
Community engagements such as charity fund-raising, responsible retailing, licencing compliance, crime prevention, book keeping, stock control, record maintenance and use of modern technology are also looked at.
Mr Sandanarajah added: “This is the first time an independent shop has achieved this in our region.
“In my opinion this is an excellent opportunity to prove our team spirit.
“I am sure Mail readers too will be proud of our town.”
Mr Sandanarajah only took over the shop recently but wanted to improve the site immediately.
“We only took over last year although the shop itself is 38 years old,” he said.
“I decided to keep all of the staff on and because there were some stock rooms inside where nothing much was happening, we knocked down some of the walls and managed to practically double the shop size.
“It’s now a proper convenience store.
“It’s a real honour to work with the staff because they work very hard and take pride in their work too.
“Full credit should go to them for helping us to get this award.”