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A common cause unites retail competitors

Under most circumstances, Walmart and Target are like oil and water, but when the issue is fighting retail crime even fierce competitors see the wisdom of coming together to battle a common enemy.

Such is the case with retail theft, and earlier this week the Retail Industry Leaders Association welcomed a select group of senior level asset protection executives, product manufacturers and academic researchers to the 2011 Asset Protection Leaders Council (APLC) meeting in Minneapolis to launch the APLC’s process driven shrink initiative. 

The APLC consists of senior level asset protection executives and serves as a forum to discuss key issues and challenges facing retailers, share ideas and leading practices and pursue positive change within their operations and the industry at large. Mike Lamb,VP asset protection for The Home Depot serves as chair and Monica Mullins, VP asset protection and safety at Walmart serves as vice-chair. The Crimes Against Business Committee provides a forum for addressing criminal risks impacting the retail industry and Nate Hartle, senior group manager of investigations for Target is the committee’s chair and Deborah Maples, VP loss prevention at Gap, is vice-chair.

To kick-off the meeting in Minneapolis, the Best Buy asset protection team led a walk through of a local store, highlighting Best Buy’s 360 degree approach to loss prevention. The day’s events also included presentations by Target’s asset protection team that focused on the role of upstream partnerships and operational excellence in driving down shrink, and Dr. Mark Barratt of Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School of Business who challenged the current views on shrinkage and the approach most companies adopt when trying to control Inventory Record Inaccuracy.

“Shrinkage continues to plague the retail industry and the impact is significant, particularly when you include the cost of responding to the problem, out of stocks and associated lost sales,” said Lisa LaBruno, RILA’s VP loss prevention and legal affairs. “Traditionally, shrinkage has been perceived as primarily the result of external theft. Through the APLC, retailers are joining forces to address the importance of understanding the critical role operational breakdowns play in explaining the root causes of shrink and identifying sustainable solutions that will benefit the entire industry.” 

Attendees at the event also visited Target’s Investigations Center and such retailers as CVS, Lowes, Publix, The Home Depot and Walmart gave presentations.