A 23-year-old Tamworth retail manager has been awarded the National Retail Association’s (NRA) 2011 Australia’s Young Retailer of the Year award.

Jennifer Skeahan-Heugh has been recognised for her achievement as helping some Kmart departments in Tamworth reach triple-digit growth and registering a 60 per cent increase in customer compliment cards for customer service.

NRA executive director Gary Black said Skeahan-Heugh has shown genuine commitment to her customers, her employer and her own career in retail.

“Jennifer Skeahan-Heugh’s success demonstrates that not only does retail build the critical employability skills for the majority of young people in Australia, it also offers an unmatched diversity in career options including operations management, merchandising, store design and layout, public relations, IT, HR, marketing and sales, product safety, and fashion innovation,” he said.

Skeahan-Heugh triumphed over almost 100 entrants aged between 18 and 25 before the competition was narrowed down to 23 finalists. As a reward for winning, she receives a place on the Westfield World Retail Study Tour, valued at $16,000.

“The National Retail Association is proud to support career development in Australia’s retail sector, and is greatly encouraged by the emergence of so many talented and motivated young professional in the ranks of Australian Retailers. Jennifer Skeahan-Heugh is this year’s standard bearer for Australia’s young retail professionals,” Black said.