A reigning champion in the Retail Fraud Awards is hoping to extend a winning streak in the competition when this year’s winners and runners-up are announced at a Gala Dinner on 5th October at Leicester City Football Club in the UK.

Cardinal Security (as a Group) has won the Vendor of the Year category for the last two years running and is shortlisted for it again.

Cardinal has also been shortlisted in the Most Innovative In-Store Solution category for its Guarded-365 platform through which the company “can intelligently task officers, improve compliance and demonstrate a clear return on investment,” it said.

If you trawl through the websites of the UK’s top 30 security firms, you won’t find any as firmly focused on retail as www.cardinalsecurity.co.uk

More leading retailers are mentioned on its home page than on most of the others’ home pages combined.

Formed in 2003, (and currently in 23rd place on the list at infologue.com) Cardinal Security is a privately owned company supplying security solutions and people to the top 100 retailers.

As of July the firm has a new ownership structure. A management buy-in saw a group of private individuals take ownership. The previous CEO and founder, Jason Trigg, will be retained as a part time consultant for the next 12 months.

Cardinal’s new owners include as CEO, Simon Chapman – previously Managing Director at Lodge Service; Graham Allison, who joined Cardinal recently as Commercial Director, has been appointed Managing Director.

Retail Risk News caught up with Simon Chapman as he was out and about recently.

“I’m not a sit behind the desk guy,” he said. “I like to get out and visit the officers who are fronting the business. To me it’s extremely important that they know who you are and that we care about what they are doing.”

One of the strap lines he has brought to the business is that he wants to offer people a career, not just a job, so that Cardinal becomes “an employer of choice”.

In line with that ambition Cardinal is opening a training academy this year, with a range of courses not only for its own staff but also for clients and partners in the industry. While some of the bigger security companies also have training academies none has the same focus on retail, and Cardinal’s ranking by the Security Industry Association in the top 5% of UK security providers offers an assurance of quality and sector expertise not rivalled by any other supplier.

Given the decline in amateur shoplifting, and ongoing shrinkage of retailers’ budgets, RRN felt bound to ask the new CEO whether retail guarding is a good business to be in at the moment.

It is, for the company with the right approach and with the powerful management information systems that Cardinal has developed over the years which allows its clients to have complete transparency of our performance and the added value a smarter approach can deliver he argues.

“That is what is really providing the intelligence, the data and reporting to get real value out of the manpower industry. A lot of the time you will see companies deploying bodies on the door and sometimes that’s where it stops. We believe that is not the best way to get a return on investment and that a joine dup partnership approach delivers results

Retail budgets are only going in one direction, we all know that. We are working with our clients to ensure they get that return on investment and utilize available spend in the right areas through a resource to risk model. increase it.”

In its manifesto the company promises “to highlight the value or expose the true costs of our guarding operation.

“At every phase in the process our data driven approach will enable our clients to demonstrate the benefits of a smart approach to guarding.”

A new control room and intelligence centre at Cardinal’s expanded head offices in Great Chesterford, Essex provide management software, incident reporting and data analysis through a 24/7 intelligence centre to make good on that pledge.

“We are currently rolling out in excess of 500 tablets at important sites and locations in order to help us to manage our workforce and these will also be used to report incidents and health and safety issues inside stores back to our intelligence centre in real time, and of course importantly direct to the client as well,” Chapman said.

“The client has complete open portal access so they can look at our performance by store, by region, and on a national basis and challenge us quite rightly on our officers’ performance. That’s what we mean by bringing intelligence into guarding and of course it’s also about identifying where resources are not required.”

Cardinal’s new 5M model gives a unique view of guarding investment and the true cost or return, the company says.

The 5Ms – Measure, Mobilise, Monitor, Manage, Monetise – set out the services and technology Cardinal provides and the way these are delivered and monitored to maximise ROI.

When taking on a client the first stage is measuring risk and establishing key objectives to govern deployment based on historical incidents and data from other retailers.

Mobilisation follows: guards are sensitively TUPE’d across (preserving their terms and conditions) if needed and retrained at the Cardinal Academy, additional officers and support teams are recruited, data feeds are integrated and dashboarded, hardware such as smart shelves, smart watch, tablets, CCTV and body cams rolled out, a compliance framework is instituted and tasking becomes agile and focused.

The monitoring system gives decision makers access to data, and field and back office monitoring provide push alerts and a real time view of officers’ performance as well as sharing intelligence with officers and allowing faster reactions.

The management system allows for the field team to be deployed to give focused training and for officers to see their own performance, and the fifth M, Monetise, allows users to see the cost of guarding, compare performance, move to performance related pay, optimise deployment of personnel and technology and enable better budgetary planning.

As a specialist provider of services to retailers Cardinal is well placed to advise on the blend of people and technology they need for security.

Chapman stressed Cardinal’s “duty as a supplier is to sit down with clients and review how the right blend can reduce cost while retaining efficiency and health and safety”.

Lone worker devices and vehicle tracking for example are technologies Cardinal assists with that dramatically reduce retailers’ staffing needs for out of hours’ deliveries.

Contribution to sales and marketing is an important component of guarding’s ROI, Chapman said.

“We are now having really interesting discussions with clients about how we can help them to sell more, and that is something we are very keen to develop through management information systems we have, and also through the data.”

Looking to a not too distant future when the retail footprint will undoubtedly change, Chapman suggested that security guards could be more in demand than ever to meet and greet customers and act as caretakers.

He cited a highly automated concept store in Boston selling denims where customers can select the jeans they want to try via their tablet or smartphone, find them delivered to fitting rooms, pay for them and leave without ever meeting the shop assistants who are back of store.

“But you do see one staff member,” Chapman pointed out, “and that’s the security officer at the front door. In that scenario the officer and smart technology have become the face of the business.”