Chief protector: Inside the business of loss prevention

“I was surprised at how many people steal,” Mike Brenton, director of asset protection for Giant Food — which has more than 160 supermarkets in Virginia, Maryland, Delaware and Washington, D.C. — says. As NRF gears up for its annual loss prevention and cyber risk event, NRF PROTECT, the focus is on the world of loss prevention. In this episode, Brenton shares his experience on rising through the ranks at the grocery retailer and how LP has evolved over the years.

Starting as a grocery bagger, Brenton has been learning about and mastering retail for over three decades. There is a lot more at stake in loss prevention though, including people’s lives. “You have to make sure that you have the right people,” he says, “making the right decisions, at the right time.” Collaborating with local community partners is essential and Brenton says cultivating relationships with the town and county police departments before they are needed is a good start.

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“[Organized retail crime] is a multi-million-dollar problem that we have in this country,” Brenton says, “and it still continues to this day.” He hopes booming information technology will provide new ways to combat the issue. With artificial intelligence, facial recognition and improving video capabilities, LP professionals can have the ability to act in real-time — for example, to recognize and trigger an alert about people known to have shoplifted before.

The cameras don’t only pick up familiar faces though. Because they tend to be placed in high-traffic areas of stores where customer behavior can be observed, the field of asset protection is evolving into a business solutions role. “One thing that we're doing in LP, better than what we've done in the past,” Brenton says, “is that we're finding our seat at the table.” While in the past, the “LP guys” were off chasing shoplifters, they are now beginning to join discussions on business strategy, product placement, driving sales and improving the bottom line.

Listen to the episode to learn more about loss prevention and what’s keeping Brenton up at night.

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