This article is provided by BRC Associate Member Critizr.


A nationwide competition to celebrate the pride, commitment and exceptional service given by teams working in stores across the UK has announced its first monthly winner: New Look’s King Street store in South Shields.

Proud of My Store crowned Store Manager Serena Martinez (pictured) and her team as their April winners, after judges were bowled over by the energy, drive and team spirit that shone through in their entry, alongside a drive to make sure that customers always come first.

Having worked with New Look since joining as a trainee aged 17, Serena has a relentless focus on creating a fun, positive, supportive environment for store staff, which in turn engenders the same for customers.

And as a big brand on a small high street, she also impressed with her ability to create a warm, personal and trusted local experience that is valued by South Shield’s customers: built upon a deep knowledge of their needs and a winning store strategy that earns their trust and loyalty.

This is a wonderful honour and our whole team is thrilled to have our hard work recognised in the Proud of My Store competition, Serena said.
I’ve been in retail for my whole career and our success is down to some simple mantras that I live by – ones that I’ve also coached my team to follow. Firstly, this is the customers’ store! We work here, but we’re here for customers, and we need to create an amazing vibe so that they feel the positive energy as soon as they come through the door. We are a small store but we work really hard to make sure customers get a big experience when they’re here - from the friendly hello at the door to the help we give them with styling, fitting and advice.
Secondly, I never forget that customers choose a person before a product. We had a ‘Pretty Woman’ moment quite recently when a customer came to do a fairly big shop with us after she wasn’t treated very well in another store. It reminded me that shoppers come to us for our people, just as much as the great fashion we have on sale. Finally, we all have huge pride in being part of our local area. There are a lot of empty units on King Street, but I’m from this town, I understand what local customers need, and our team works hard to build something special that works locally and draws people in. We never settle for mediocre, and this approach translates into our store’s performance which is amongst the region’s best.

Head of Retail for New Look (North) Peter Rodgers congratulated Serena and her team on their win, adding:

I’m proud to see our South Shields team working to build a strong service culture that is inclusive of everyone, where anyone who enters the stores feels a part of our New Look family. They really show they care for their customers and are genuinely living our brand values!

Proud of My Store was founded in 2021 to recognise the invaluable role local store staff play in retail, and to shine a spotlight on the service and value they bring to communities. The Proud of My Store 2022 online hub opened earlier this month for entries from supermarket branches, boutiques, banks, pharmacies, salons, restaurants and more, inviting them to tell their local store’s story - whether it’s a big idea or a small but powerful act of kindness.

Organised by customer interaction management specialists Critizr, monthly winners are being selected, with one overall team set to be crowned ‘Proudest Store 2022’ in July by a panel of retail experts including Adam Leyland, Editor of the Grocer; Anthony Hawman from; Natalie Berg from the BRC; Paul Barnes, CEO of the Association of International Retail; Steve Collinge from Insight DIY; and last year’s Proud of My Store winner Claire Saunders, Manager at the Co-op. As well as scooping luxury hampers to share with the team, and a donation to the store’s favourite charity, all winners will be guests of Critizr at a special event later in the year, where their achievements will be celebrated in person

Critizr Co-founder and CEO Nicolas Hammer added his congratulations to the South Shields New Look team. He said:

Serena’s story of team spirit and an absolute focus on the store experience stood out for our judges. This genuine, positive love of making customers happy and the drive to make a local store visit memorable is what brings people back again and again to buy from a brand. New Look South Shields clearly has this in abundance, as well a strong growth mindset of constantly wanting to improve and evolve the customer experience. Serena and her team, alongside the whole of New Look should be very proud. Well done.

How to enter:

1.  Visit

2.  Enter your story

3.  Spread the word using #ProudOfMyStore


Twitter @Critizr_UK

For further information please contact Burt Greener Communications:

Rachael Tyrrell / / 07818 075606

Lorna Burt / / 07792 253818



Critizr Connection is Europe’s leading Customer Interaction Management Platform. Founded by Critizr in 2012, thousands of retail professionals working in over 80 of Europe’s biggest companies now use it on a daily basis to drive customer obsession across the whole business. 

It’s a next generation solution that builds the conversations and emotional connections that modern customers demand. It brings local staff closer to local customers, giving them access to the voice of their own customers, so they can engage with them, uncover insights and take action on the issues that matter most. This is technology designed to be easily used and integrated by frontline staff: the people who serve customers and are uniquely placed to deliver a seamless customer journey and exceptional retail experience. 

Critizr Connection has a proven track record in increasing local store performance, and with this comes a wide range of measurable whole business benefits: increased footfall and sales, improved customer loyalty and brand reputation, and a reduction in customer churn. This is how Critizr is transforming the way businesses like Carrefour, Monoprix, Total and many others are now able to deliver a best-in-class customer experience and win market share - from the shop floor up. It reflects Critizr co-founder Nicolas Hammer’s vision that true customer obsession can’t happen from the top down; it has to be adopted company wide, by every team and member of staff across the business. 

Easy to scale and use, even for companies with hundreds of local branches, in France alone, the Critizr platform is embedded in over 30,000 stores. In a 2020 survey of over 2000 store managers, 76% confirmed they use Critizr Connection every day to interact with customers. 

With six years of successful growth behind them, Critizr now has a fast growing team of over 100 CX experts on board, with offices in Paris, Lille and London. The business is currently rolling out an ambitious expansion plan following the a €15 million funding round, to support and grow its stable of clients in the retail, banking, travel, entertainment and hospitality sectors.