Award for Sunderland Echo

Lucas Tregaskis, 11, front with fellow Key Stage 3 pupils at Oxclose Community School, Washington, who are taking part in a Readathon.

Lucas Tregaskis, 11, front with fellow Key Stage 3 pupils at Oxclose Community School, Washington, who are taking part in a Readathon.

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THE Echo’s newspaper sales team has scooped a prestigious award for delivering excellent service to newsagents.

The team, headed by Northeast Press newspaper sales manager Paul Foreman, won the Regional Newspaper of the Year honour, from the National Federation of Retail Newsagents (NFRN).

Sunderland Branch Secretary of the National Federation of Retail Newsagents Tony Pucci (second from left) presents the award to NorthEast Press managing director Stuart Birkett watched on by Echo editor Rob Lawson and Northeast Press regional newspaper sales manager Paul Freeman.

Sunderland Branch Secretary of the National Federation of Retail Newsagents Tony Pucci (second from left) presents the award to NorthEast Press managing director Stuart Birkett watched on by Echo editor Rob Lawson and Northeast Press regional newspaper sales manager Paul Freeman.

Newspapers are nominated by local NFRN branches in recognition of their work.

The award citation reads: “The Sunderland Echo has an honest and open and constructive two-way relationship with the NFRN and exemplifies the benefits such a relationship can bring.”

Paul, who has been at Northeast Press for 11 years, works with a team of 10 full and part-time staff – six retailers and four in administration.

“It was a fabulous night and I’m very proud of the team,” said Paul, who received the award at a glittering ceremony in London.

“I was shocked when our name was read out, but absolutely delighted.

“I phoned the staff to tell them – it was about 10pm – and they were all really pleased.”

Paul, whose team beat three other finalists including the Yorkshire Post, said he puts their success down to the customer care service they provide.

He added: “We don’t have as much money available to do things like we used to, so we really focus on the customer care aspect and make sure all problems and issues are resolved in seven days or less.

“We look after Federation members. I go to monthly Federation meetings, we do promotions and we try hard to help members increase sales.

“It’s about building relationships.

“It’s not rocket science, although it takes effort.

“But we get a lot back. They help us, too, and are always willing to promote our products.”

Darron McLoughlin, group head of newspaper sales development, said: “I’m delighted Paul and the team in Sunderland have won this award.

“It reflects the hard work, enthusiasm and commitment the team continue to show along with their creativity in developing schemes that independent retailers want to participate in and value.

“The fact that the Sunderland Echo was nominated by its retailers just adds an extra special ingredient to a fantastic achievement.”

Twitter: @davidallison88