Joanne Walker, the Newtownards store manager who was the first finalist from Northern Ireland to make the shortlist for the FMI Store Manager Awards in the U.S, has won her category during an event in Louisville, Kentucky.

The international awards ceremony run by the Food Marketing Institute in the U.S took place during the Future Leaders Summit last night (Wednesday 16 May) with Joanne taking home the International Store Manager gong.

The awards celebrate outstanding managers who generate sales growth, effectively communicate company and store goals and objectives, demonstrate team leadership, provide exceptional customer service and improve community relations.

Speaking of her win from Kentucky, Joanne commented; “I am completely overwhelmed and delighted to have won this award. The past two years have been such a learning experience for me, overseeing a multi-million revamp of our EUROSPAR supermarket in Carrowdore and managing my fantastic team through it all.

“Being over in Louisville for the Future Leaders Summit is a huge opportunity. I have been surrounded by leaders who are as passionate about retail as I am; I can’t wait to bring back all my learnings to the team at home.”

Mark McCammond, Retail Director at Henderson Group, owners of the EUROSPAR franchise in Northern Ireland added; “On behalf of the whole Group, I’d like to send huge congratulations to Joanne. It is fantastic recognition for a EUROSPAR store manager from Northern Ireland to pick up this global award.

“It shows the level of professionalism our store managers bring to retail in Northern Ireland; Joanne has grown her store, her team and the level of service for her shoppers and that should be celebrated, which we will make sure of when Joanne gets home!”

Joanne has taken home a crystal award for her mantelpiece, as well as $1,000 for her category win.