LP Magazine

NOV-DEC 2018

LP magazine publishes articles for loss prevention, asset protection, and retail professionals covering shrinkage, investigations, shoplifting, internal theft, fraud, technology, best practices, and career development.

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SCREAM IF YOU WANT TO GO FASTER 46 NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2018 | LOSSPREVENTIONMEDIA.COM Once again, the system immediately spotted the scam not just as a fraud but also as a vulnerable process. Such was the sale of the scam that we had to close the unit as we had to get rid of the whole team, which obviously had a short-term revenue challenge for us." The common denominator in many of these scams is the high use of cash, so under Blethyn's stewardship, Merlin is currently conducting a trial on cashless alternatives following a successful pilot last year at Halloween, one of the group's busiest periods. "This year we are trialling the cashless initiative at a number of our parks and resorts because of the benefits that we recognized in terms of reduced physical risk to staff handling cash and the number of employee thefts. Early indications have shown that it has also significantly reduced our operational costs whilst adding value to guests through shorter queues. In fact, we have seen a revenue increase because people like the speed of the operation. As far as rolling this out, we will continue the trial to the end of the year and then report back to the board, but it looks extremely positive, so watch this space. "You have to be constantly looking at new ways of doing things to increase value to the guests and the business. It's like a roller coaster—it has got to keep moving to provide the thrill of the ride." Such use of technology is testament to Blethyn's tenacity to put the brakes on the double-digit shrink that was blighting the business when she joined in 2003. "The shrink when I joined the business was between 10 and 13 percent—it was horrendous. When I joined Tussauds before the merger with Merlin, there were five or six different stock and sales systems across the business, and there was no regular stocktaking function. The result of this was that we had no global picture of stock or accuracy. "I learned early on that we had to do it differently and very quickly. I needed to get everyone on board with a strategy that works, whereas previously people were not getting on board the profit protection train because, for whatever reason, it was not stopping at their station. "Now, across the global estate, shrink is circa 1 percent, but I am lucky in that profit protection is supported from the very top of the organization across the world. This year we invited all our profit protection partners from all over the world to a conference at Chessington. The CEO, the CFO, and three other board directors attended and addressed the delegates—there are few businesses that can say they have that level of buy-in from the executive team." Cultural Awareness The reduction in the shrink figure is also linked to the knowledge that because of different cultural and legal frameworks, a company cannot adopt blanket technological approaches across the world. "In Europe there are different approaches," Blethyn said. "For example, in Italy there are regulations around the use of CCTV, and in Germany you have the works councils, so you have to try alternative approaches. "In Italy, we have CCTV in the cash offices and have successfully communicated that the cameras are there for their own protection to prove that they have done nothing wrong, rather than there being any room for suspicion. In Japan as well, there is a strict honor code that impacts upon the way that you engage with colleagues. You can never be directly critical, but they are eager and happy to learn from their mistakes so that they never happen again. By making these simple adjustments in approach, you are more likely to secure the human engagement that you need to run your business as all of the territories and people will be happy to come forward more often. "We instill the profit protection message early as part of the induction, but trying to train new people on a new park or resort in a different country about profit protection can be challenging because "Now, across the global estate, shrink is circa 1 percent, but I am lucky in that profit protection is supported from the very top of the organization across the world."

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