Canadian Security Magazine

Fashion retailer splurges on security

Neil Sutton   

News Retail

When Angie Dalios joined fashion accessory retailer Ardene’s security department earlier this year, she discovered the technology in place was significantly behind the times.

The Montreal-based company operates a chain of 350 stores nationwide,
but few of them had security cameras. The ones that did were using
older analogue units or in some cases just dummy cameras.

basically didn’t record, and when they did it was horrible quality,
which couldn’t have been used for identifying suspects or court
purposes. It was basically just a deterrent that didn’t work that well,"
says Dalios, Ardene’s new manager of security and loss prevention.

“It was way overdue to put in a security system, so they hired me.”

Dalios started at Ardene in April and by May the company had selected Axis Communications as its camera provider.

was a fairly simple process, says Dalios. Based on Internet research
and some discussions with her security peers, it became clear that Axis
fit the bill for Ardene’s camera requirements.

“We supplied the
Axis 215 network camera, which offers 12x optical zoom for an
economical price. For that (type) of store, that level of optical zoom
is perfect,” explains Robert Moore, Canadian regional manager for Axis.

security integrator and Axis partner Intercam Systems was selected to
install the cameras. For store locations that Intercam was unable to
reach, the company arranged for subcontractors to do the work.

the exception of very large Ardene outlets (more than 13,000 sq. ft.)
which have two, each store will be equipped with one camera. The
pan-tilt-zoom features of a single Axis 215 is sufficient to cover the
entire store.

“These cameras are exceptional. I can zoom across
the room onto the price tag and look at the price that’s written on the
item for sale,” says Dalios.

At press time, Ardene had rolled
out 121 cameras. Dalios estimates that it will take approximately one
year to finish the rollout, but end goal is something of a moving
target, considering that Ardene is rapidly expanding, adding about 10
new stores a month.

Along with the cameras, Ardene has deployed
Milestone Systems software to manage the video content. The cameras are
all on an IP network and can be managed centrally from Ardene’s main
office using the software. Video is backed up using two blade servers
with a combined 4 TB of storage and is kept on file for 120 days.

security upgrade was designed to reduce theft in stores and act as a
deterrent to would-be shoplifters, but the cameras have also had other
benefits ”“ the main one being employee management.

“The cameras
are not there to spy on our employees ”“ we trust them,” insists Dalios.
“But we have noticed an increase in productivity.”

Much like the cameras are a deterrent to would-be shoplifters, they also keep employees on their toes.

a staff member is shirking their responsibilities, Dalios soon knows
about it. If it’s evident that there are potential customers walking
around a store and aren’t getting the help they need, she’ll inform the
store’s supervisor, who’ll have a stern word with any slackers.

way the camera system is helping to grease the company’s wheels is by
allowing management to inspect a store’s interior without physically
walking through the door.

“This helps our merchandisers and
buyers a lot if they need to make changes,” she says. “Instead of
paying for them to go there” they can visit a store virtually.

now, Dalios is managing the system by herself. She says it’s been
useful as a learning process, but she’s planning on getting some help
as soon as she can hire someone.

“It takes time to program each camera the way we want it,” she says.

Ardene needs someone who can view video footage and tweak camera
operations on a full-time basis, leaving Dalios more time to pursue
other security matters.

She’s planning, for example, to upgrade point-of-sale technology in stores so she can better track individual transactions.

“We do have a lot of transactions per day, and we want to know who’s punching (them) in.”

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