Haslemere’s Original Factory Shop store manager Karen Coombes has been shortlisted as a finalist in the Community Hero/Heroes category in the Retail Week Awards.

The award is designed to celebrate the vital and unique role retail plays in local communities and applauds individuals or teams who have gone above and beyond their day job to help others.

The Original Factory Shop is a discount retailer with more than 180 branches across the UK.

Since joining the Haslemere branch two years ago, Karen’s focus has been on training, developing and motivating her small team.

She and her team have pioneered many initiatives which have now been adopted across many other Original Factory Shop stores.

Karen has set her team the challenge of becoming part of the community for customers, supporting local causes and highlighting what the town has to offer.

She has also put training in place to help teammates build individual confidence, to support the approach of building community relationships.

Karen said: “It is a great honour to make it to the finals for this award and to win would be fantastic.

“I really enjoy my role at the Original Factory Shop.

“At our branch it’s all about building community relationships, as well as delivering value, convenience, brilliant service and consistency to our customers every day.

“All of this is possible because of our amazing team, and every single one of them has embraced our vision and changes with such passion, and being shortlisted is a great recognition of that.”

Oliver Peck, marketing director at the Original Factory Shop, said: “Karen is a brilliant example of a colleague who puts her community first.

“Everything Karen does is customer focused and all about making the Original Factory Shop the best part of a customer’s day in their local community.”

Hanna Jackson, managing director at Retail Week, said: “It’s always an incredibly difficult decision selecting the Retail Week Awards shortlist and that’s even more true this year.

“While Covid-19 no longer casts a shadow over the industry, supply chain issues and the cost-of-living crisis have hit businesses up and down the country.

“Yet the high calibre of entrants to this year’s Retail Week Awards reflects the sheer amount of hard work, collaboration and investment driven by retailers during such tough trading conditions.

“We believe this year’s shortlist recognises the most innovative and exceptional retailers and retail workers who are adapting to evolving customer expectations and changing spending habits while creating positive change in their companies and communities.”

Karen’s nomination for the Community Hero/Heroes category in the Retail Week Awards comes after Haslemere’s Original Factory Shop was named the UK’s Proudest Store in a national competition last year.

The top Proud of My Store prize – out of 300 entries – was scooped by Karen and her team at an awards ceremony in London.