Loss prevention’s place within the corporate structure

Despite the fact that retailers across the nation lose billions of dollars a year to theft and organized retail crime, it remains a challenge for many asset protection leaders to bring senior management on board with implementing the changes necessary to combat the problem. Considering the impact the economy has had on retail organizations over the last several years, trying to secure a capital investment for security technology or approval for an increase in payroll from corporate can be a tall order.

How loss prevention professionals can be successful in gaining a receptive audience among their organization's executives for such tasks was the topic of a panel discussion Tuesday at the National Retail Federation Loss Prevention Conference and Expo.

The panelists included Michael Archbold, executive vice president, chief financial officer and chief operations officer for The Vitamin Shoppe, Marvin Ellison, executive vice president of U.S. stores for the Home Depot, and Michael Brizel, executive vice president and general counsel for Saks Fifth Avenue.

Though asset protection may be an integral part of every retailer's operations, Ellison said the key to getting the ear of corporate management as an LP manager is being able to communicate the value your department brings to the organization. Rather than speaking of things in terms of asset protection or security, Ellison said that loss prevention professionals need talk about the impact a security issue may have on shareholder value.

"If you do that, people will invite you to the table," he said.

From a leadership standpoint, Archbold said that asset protection managers need to be consensus builders and not just expect to have their needs and wants met because of their job title.

"You can't just be the corporate cop and expect things to get done," he said.

All of the panelists agreed that it was important for organizations to have a strong relationship with their LP departments and receive their input on matters that impact the company.

"Our asset protection team has unrestricted access to senior management at a moment's notice," Brizel said. "We try to integrate asset protection into every single aspect of our business."

Looking at the some of challenges that lay ahead for the loss prevention industry, the panel noted the rise in ORC activity, as well as the ability to adapt to the changing retail environment, which includes more online shopping and having the resources to fight Internet fraud.

Those LP managers who understand where they fit in the corporate strategy and are able to tightly align their departments with others in the company will be well prepared to handle these challenges as they come, according to the panelists.