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We did it..!

Retail Risk – London sees good attendance in person and online… just 3 days after lockdown ends!

On Thursday 22nd July the good and the great of risk management converged to the Novotel Hammersmith West in London to attend Europe’s bigges risk management and loss prevention conference, Retail Risk – London.

The event was well attended, although unfortunately some retailers who are regulars of the show were unable to attend in person as planned. However, turnout was very good with many remarking how friendly people were as they renewed old acquaintances and made new contacts.

Clearly the recent lack of networking opportunities was something that attendees were keen to make up for. And with an excellent online audience joining the conference LIVE throughout the day, the reach of the show was excellent – a great way to start the day ready for the 2020 Fraud Awards later in the evening.

Next year Retail Risk – London returns to its May slot, taking place on the 19th May 2022. Block out the date in your diary now.

And the winner is…

Find out the results of the Fraud Awards 2020 announced this week at the Gala Dinner

The results of the Fraud Awards 2020 – sponsored by WIS International – were finally revealed on Thursday 22nd July

See who won now…

GUEST ARTICLE

Thirty Million Brits Delete NHS App!

Who needs restrictions when you have a pingdemic!?!

OK. So the headline is not strictly factual. But I am making a point here…

No sooner had Freedom Day given us back our liberty than the NHS app took it away again!

As people struggled to come to terms with their newly restored freedoms, Green King struggled to find staff and had to close 33 pubs. Iceland closed stores. Andrew Lloyd Webber called off his much anticipated, but long postponed, Cinderella production. Even me local Poundland was struggling…

All in all the squeals of joy as Freedom Day arrived quickly turned into howls of anguish, and then derision as the Government allowed an app designed to identify people coming into close contact with those diagnosed with Covid… did its job. And this against a backdrop of allowing case numbers to increase from 2,000 to 100,000 a day as part of the Government’s planned return to normality, completion of the vaccination programme and establishment of herd immunity. All aided and abetted by the vaccine.

Today we have a million school children off school, self-isolating ‘in case’ they are infected. And between now and the 16th August, when the Government intends to replace the order to self-isolate with one to get a test, millions of adults – some predict as many as 4.5 million – will have to self -isolate ‘in case’ they have the virus. That’s people we need to staff the NHS, drive trucks to supply shops, run businesses, etc., ‘in case’ you hadn’t noticed.

What the hell is going on!

The ever louder calls for action are being heard. The Government is being encouraged to bring the August 16th date forward. Otherwise many businesses will start to flounder. And of course, retail is a prime example. Unfortunately though, people are taking the law into their own hands (or being pragmatic, depending on your point of view) and switching off the NHS app. I just hope Chris Whitty and Jonathan Van-Tam (senior Government epidemiological advisers, for our overseas readers) have got their sums right. Otherwise it will be ‘Next slide please’ for Chris Whitty at the press conference and carnage will ensue.

However, I am not sure that at least some of this was not entirely foreseeable. Actually I believe it was…

Clearly the rate at which the Delta variant spreads means that anyone living a close to normal existence is going to come into contact with people who have it. And maybe they will be unlucky and get it. But if they are double jabbed, we know that they are less likely to get infected. And if they get infected they are less likely to get seriously ill. And if they get seriously ill they are less likely to die. So all in all, I think I’d back meself, with those odds.

Currently we actually have less people dying in this country than anticipated. It’s true! The measurement is called ‘excess mortality’ and it predicts how many souls will perish every month of the year. We have been in an ‘excess mortality deficit’ now for months. So in my mind there is no doubt the vaccines are working, but I would admit the virus is difficult to stop spreading and putting people in self-isolation.

However, what you can control is the furlough scheme. What’s the point of paying people to stay at home when there are thousands of businesses desperate for workers. That does seem nuts. End the furlough scheme now and free up the labour market in one fell swoop.

And then there is the issue of staff recruitment and retention. Perhaps it is time for the industry to be honest with itself and admit that it has been paying too little to too many for too long. Certainly in my part of retail – stock taking – that has been the story for far too long now.

As me old Gran used to say, “Some people know the price of everything, but the value of nothing.” I have found this true in retail, where the annual investment in stock taking, whether in house or third party contracted, is simply how to get a result that people will accept as cheaply as possible. That is simply missing the whole point that right now, accurate stock is the single most important aspect to generating profits that there is in retail. If you cannot fulfil demand then you simply annoy people into going elsewhere, with less effort than ever before because they don’t have to leave their armchairs to check out your competitors and buy from them.

And if you are thinking “Alright then clever clogs, what have you done to avoid being paralysed by labour shortage?” I’ll gladly share it with you. We have strategy…

First of all we recruit people who are capable of doing a good job, being trained and adding value to our service for our clients. Unlike some companies, merely having a pulse and a need for money does not qualify you to get on our stocktaking teams!

Once we have found the right people (and we process around 250 applicants for every one person we retain), we train them. Not only does this mean they can do the job in a skilled manner (part of which is about cost and part of which is about taking pride in doing a good job), but that they have aspirations beyond receiving the week’s pay. We show them how others have started at “the bottom” and worked their way up. We encourage people to aspire to make more of their lives, professional and otherwise. In some cases, those humble beginnings have been the start of careers that got to senior management level.

Once we have the best people then we need to retain them. So we give them industry leading working conditions, a sense of belonging, a uniform, a team spirit and team building exercises. Oh yes, and we pay them well. Not only is our pay above average for our industry, but we also guarantee minimum numbers of hours each month. And people can rely on that income, come what may. No other stock take company does that. And with our job planning software always displaying at least 21 days out who is working for which clients, jobs are planned, counters are skilled and we don’t turn up on the day with half our people missing – unlike some stock count companies who are permanently short of staff… at all levels!

How do we do all of that and still undercut our competitors. The answer is simple. We don’t!

Retailers who think the only value of stock taking is to produce a number to be featured in the annually told fairy tale called the statutory accounts filing is not our customer. We will willingly explain alternative strategies to decrease current costs of poor stock control, increase sales and reduce shrink. And none of this requires capital investment, just better use of resources available today. But if a retailer wants a cheap price then there are companies in the market who will kill each other in the race to the bottom, to get that business. The count will be hopeless. The business will make millions of pounds less revenue. Accuracy will be 95% if you are lucky – even if you are using the shiny silver bullet (becoming slightly tarnished now though!) of RFID. But hey, if you think it is only necessary to keep Accounts happy, so what! Of course, this may all feel like a false economy when others are taking your business…

And to the extent that I have explained the mismatch between what is being focussed on and what is required, I think the same is true in retail and broadly across the nation in many different lines of business. You can’t do much about covid now. And the Government is doing what can be done with vaccinations. But what you can do is focus on imbuing your staff with enthusiasm for a meaningful purpose and then ‘walk the talk’ in terms of how you actually treat them. And make sure they deliver what your customers want when you want it, because delivery is the key.

After all, Jeff Bezos flew in his own rocket to outer space this week. What kind of amazing product did Bezos create to become the wealthiest individual on the planet? Nothing. He just made it easier for the world to buy lots of widely available items from his business rather than any other. Amazon is paying £14.25 per hour plus free transport to and from work to its Distribution Centre pickers, when many retailers are offering minimum wage of £8.20 per hour. Do you see my point..!

Geoff Chaplin
Managing Director
WIS International

www.countonwis.com

GUEST ARTICLE

Does sustainability in retail security mean cladding guards in bamboo fibres!?!

Perhaps something more practical might be helpful…

Last year during lock down I found myself doing the monthly ritual of taking the recycling wheely bins from the back of the house to the bottom of the drive. A nice grey one for plastic waste and a blue one for paper. Not to be confused with the 2 brown ones for garden waste and the claret one for general waste.

So other than needing an area the size of an average London starter home to store all these wheely bins, it got me thinking about all of the new materials used in products and packaging. I know thinking can be a dangerous thing, especially when you try to apply it to business ideas, but nevertheless, ponder it I did. This led me to consider what retailers are doing to reduce waste.

There has been plenty all over the TV about campaigns against retailers to reduce the amount of single use plastics, reduce the amount of packaging on products and generally to just be a lot more considerate about the waste materials generated within their supply chains. And let’s not forget the fantastic success of the carrier bag charges. How many of you, like me, pop into the supermarket to buy a couple of items, get halfway round and realise when the basket is full that you left your re-usable bag for life in the back of the car! But hey, the bottle of black shiraz is worth the cost of a new bag for life, right?

Retailers have been making huge strides with their supply chains to deliver some great, sustainable changes to the way some products are packaged. Even online retailers are getting in on the act with recycled plastic being used for bags, and cardboard boxes replacing bags. So far so good.

So how does the security industry fit in to all this? Do we need to make sure all Security Officers uniforms are made from bamboo fibres grown in a sustainable plantation, or from the wool of free range, pampered sheep? Well I guess it’s doable, but I suspect there may be an impact on charge rates as a result. As you can see, I’m not a specialist on manned guarding! So I decided it was better to look at something I could influence.

What I do know is LP leaders are telling us of the desire within their businesses to reduce single use plastics. So what to do? How about engage with a trusted and respected partner with more than enough knowledge and capability to help us make a difference.

You may not be aware, but All-Tag have a company in The Netherlands that distributes AM 58KHz security labels. We have worked closely with the manufacturer for many, many years and have co-developed some bespoke products recently, most notably our QHP™ (Quality, High Performance) range of labels.

With the challenge posed, our partners went away to ponder the issue, develop materials, test it all and most significantly, file a number of patents! So what was the result?

Well there are only certain parts of an AM 58KHz label that you can change before it no longer works, such as the little metal strips inside. However, the housing for these strips is a different matter. And I am excited to tell you that we are now able to mass produce a label where 80% of all the plastic used in the label is certified recycled material. All of this has no impact on the performance of the QHP™ label. And the news gets even better…

The QHP™ Narrow AM label is 24% narrower than our standard labels and uses 30% less material in its construction, so in combination with 80% recycled plastics delivers an even greater reduction in single use plastics to retailers. The QHP™ Narrow AM label is also the only small format AM label available on rolls for source tagging applications.

We have called it the QHP™ eco. And it is available now, for retailers who want to make a difference…

Tim Moore
Vice President
All-Tag

www.all-tag.com

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Paul Bessant talks to…

Mark Boyd, Head of Profit Protection, APAC at JD Sports Fashion

 

Hailing from the UK, Mark Boyd has become one of the highest profile risk management professionals in Australia. On his journey to Oz he has worked with more retailers than you’d find in an average shopping mall! All that experience has taken him to JD, where he is putting his indisputable talents to great use at the cutting edge of risk management.

In this terrific interview Mark talks about his professional journey from early beginnings to his current role, sharing some great personal and professional insights along the way, with his trademark modesty and self-effacing humour. He makes the hugely challenging job of staying at the top… look remarkably easy.

Highly recommended.

For Mark’s interview… click HERE

Click here for essential information for all VIP delegates attending Retail Risk – Leicester L.I.V.E™

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