Chair: Professor Martin Gill

Panellists:
Shaun Wilson – Group Physical Security and HSE Director at Richemont (Switzerland)
Richard Brooks – Regional Security and Safety Manager at Louis Vuitton (UK, Ireland, South Africa, Benelux & Nordics)
Christophe Mossot – Senior International Key Account & Program Manager at Securitas AB (Switzerland)

Key points

Shaun Wilson outlines the ways in which securing luxury goods presents special challenges and the various stages at which meaningful protection needs to take place, not just during manufacturing, but also in transportation and sales but also when goods are being repaired. They are attractive to thieves because they are expensive and that very fact changes the risk profile. It is not just the products that are at heightened risk but also all the people – staff, customers and others – who handle and manage them. Engaging staff in the risks appropriate to their level, ensuring staff are diligent and honest are separate challenges all of their own. One specific issue is that staff often forget the value of the goods they handle due to being so familiar with them. And in addition to protecting goods and staff there are threats to data too which have to be tackled. Technology plays a part, you will hear Shaun discuss the characteristics of ‘hybrid’ and ‘remote’, and that AI detection has been a challenge but that Blockchain is the new future.

Christophe Mossot notes that working in the area of protecting luxury goods is  ‘extremely demanding’, not least in meeting client expectations which are often ambitious, after all luxury is about excellence and that needs to apply not just to the goods but all the services around them. Moreover, because the risks can be high – offenders seek expensive products with a high value that are attractive to the illicit market – clients need on-going reassurance about security. This is achieved by placing a focus on collecting data which measures effectiveness. The aim, in an ideal world, is to eliminate the risk, this has largely been done with armed robberies, in some countries at least. Getting staff engagement, which is crucial, is always a challenge in any retail environment where the commercial imperative is to sell and deprioritise anything else, security included. So a process of continually challenging staff is important, but there is no substitute for just being very good at security and having robust approaches and that includes keeping things simple and uncomplicated.

Richard Brooks discusses how Covid has changed the risk profile with the post pandemic world being marked out by significant crime increases. The challenge is to implement good security without impacting negatively on commerciality. Challenges have also increased by the evolving omni channel services which is witnessing a merging of the physical and the online experience, and is marked by increases in fraud including returns fraud. Still though traditional threats remain, for example ram raids can happen, in some countries more than others. For Richard the key is to understand the business, recognising luxury retail will always be commercially driven, and that for staff, this, rather than security is the overriding driver. So security has to engage with that, it will invariably be a secondary consideration, it is a matter of making it a meaningful one.

This panel highlighted the ways in which traditional security concerns play out in a world where security is vital but not the main driver of business. Engaging staff is key, but staff dishonesty is a challenge too, inevitably when the stakes are high. Not all technologies, AI being a case in point, have so far delivered against the highest expectations. You will also witness an interesting discussion about the dangers implicit in staff working from home.

Martin Gill
9th June, 2022