Cosmetic brands are a major attraction for shoppers in retail chemists – but also for shoplifters unfortunately, says Liam Gleeson. He is operations director in Ireland for Lodge Service, the security services consultancy.
Theft in-store impacts directly on the bottom line, but it can also damage the retailer’s brand reputation in the long term if there is a perceived and sustained threat. This can happen if criminals identify a shop as a ‘soft target’, when isolated incidents of opportunistic theft may become a more persistent problem.
Lodge Service works with major retailers to identify and resolve retail theft, such as the Sam McCauley Chemists Group, which operates 28 stores nationally in Ireland, employing 570 staff and with an annual turnover in excess of Euro 80 million.
Uniformed guards supplied by Lodge Service for in-store security represent an active deterrent to criminal activity; also, their training in customer service adds positively to the retail experience for shoppers, says Michelle Moloney, HR officer of Sam McCauley Chemists Group.
The ability of the contract security staff to interact easily and helpfully with customers – to help them locate products, for example – supports the retailer’s own brand. It ensures guards are attentive to the store environment and alert to potential security threats.
The protection is particularly beneficial for merchandising of perfume and make-up in sales promotions when situated on display stands for self-selection, as these small items are easily taken and concealed by shoplifters
Michelle Moloney says: “We have been using Lodge Service’s static uniformed guards and non-uniformed store detectives for many years in several of our stores across the country. Even from the first initial meeting it was very apparent that they are a highly professional company and over the years they have continuously provided us with an excellent, reliable service”.
Michelle Moloney comments in particular on the benefits of the reporting structure at Lodge Service, which is ‘flat’ with direct access by service users to senior managers at any time.
As a medium sized service provider, Liam Gleeson says, Lodge Service can ensure that the timing and provision of contract security is flexible and responsive to the needs of retailers. This reduces the total cost of protection, which can be focused according to prioritised needs on a daily basis.
There are some stores in the Sam McCauley Chemists Group that require security support only at weekends, for example – whilst in the run-up to Christmas, an increased number of outlets are protected all week as the incidence of shoplifting rises nationally, according to Lodge Service.
To prevent criminals becoming familiar with and exploiting guarding rotas, Lodge Service can rotate the use of uniformed security officers with undercover store detectives. This ensures that thieves never know when security staff are on the premises.
Lodge Service detectives are recruited and trained for their keen observation skills and a good memory to spot criminal activity and avoid false detentions – which can be costly if a suspect takes legal action for false arrest – while looking inconspicuous amongst shoppers in the store.
Procedures have to be regularly updated by Lodge Service in response to new patterns of crime, legal precedents, and changes in retail practices and in-store technology in Ireland and the UK.