Nearly thirty retail executives representing nine Mexican and US retailers gathered at the Sheraton Santa Fe hotel in Mexico City for the US-Mexico LP Summit last week (October 13 – 14) to share their experiences with the challenges of operating retail locations and supply chains in Mexico. This second annual loss prevention conference follows last November’s inaugural event held in Guadalajara.
Hosted by LP Magazine and PCG Solutions and sponsored by Checkpoint Systems and Axis Communications, the summit is meant to bring together both Mexican and US loss prevention professionals in an intimate atmosphere to ask questions, review loss prevention strategies, and share best practices on significant threats and issues. The loss prevention conference consists of two half days of roundtable discussions and presentations with an evening networking dinner.
The event included representatives from drug store chains Farmacia Guadalajara and Farmacias Benavides; Liverpool, Mexico’s largest department store chain and operator of over 15 malls across Mexico; OfficeMax; Walmart Mexico; and US retailers operating in country—Fossil, Nike, Old Navy, and Walgreens, who recently acquired Farmacias Benavides. Representatives from ANTAD, Mexico’s retail trade association, and Wicklander-Zulawski also participated.
Moderated by Walter Palmer, the roundtables focused on three topics determined from the consensus input of the attendees. The first topic addressed was supply-chain security and cargo theft, which is an ongoing issue from organized retail crime gangs. Loss prevention strategies such as using unbranded trucks, routing vehicles around high-risk areas, and collaborating with law enforcement to map high-crime parts of the country, were discussed.
“Mexico’s retail scene has seen some explosive growth over the past ten years, but there are unique challenges to operating in this environment,” said Palmer. “This roundtable is a great opportunity for US retailers to learn from in-country experts on the operating environment, differences in regulatory codes, and cultural factors that might inform strategy. For the Mexican retailers, this is a chance for them to hear an outside perspective on loss prevention strategies and get perspective from those companies that are new to the market and, therefore, looking at issues with fresh eyes.”
The second roundtable addressed extortion and workplace violence. Two types of extortion were identified—extortion by telephone where criminals call retail stores and pressure employees to put money on gift cards with threats to the store or the person, as well as robbers entering stores for cash threatening violence. Other instances of workplace violence, including angry customers, individuals under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and kidnapping, were mentioned.
According to Sergio Dominguez, CFE, director of investigations, frauds, and centralized affairs for Walmart Mexico, “This summit helped to confirm the permanent interest of retailers in Mexico and the US for innovating their loss prevention programs under stricter compliance regulations and an increased concern for maintaining a positive reputation before the eyes of different stakeholders. Keeping an efficient loss prevention program is one of the obligations of a socially responsible company.”
The third roundtable focused on crisis management of incidents like hurricanes, earthquakes, and civil unrest. The strategies discussed were similar to US strategies of developing crisis and business continuity plans, practicing and communicating plans and procedures with employees, and using crisis operations centers to manage events.
Promoting Communication, Proficiency, and Rapport
“The LP summit was a productive way to discuss common issues with both US and Mexican retailers, including our new partner Farmacias Benavides,” said Tim Gorman, vice president of asset protection solutions for Walgreens. “I was especially interested in the discussion about crisis management and business continuity hearing how Mexican retailers, especially Walmart Mexico, handle emergency response and crisis communications.”
Ivan Islas, loss prevention executive from Liverpool, presented attendees with his approach to developing and executing a shrink- reduction program. His presentation illustrated the financial analysis, risk assessment, and steps needed to implement and evaluate the success of a comprehensive shrink program.
Wicklander-Zulawski’s Latin American manager, Juan Valverdes, presented on investigations and interviewing in Mexico. Manuel Cardona, the government affairs executive with ANTAD, discussed his organization’s efforts at promoting retail security needs to federal, state, and local law enforcement and other government authorities.
The loss prevention conference ended with discussion of the need in Mexico for ways to promote the loss prevention industry through similar events and other educational opportunities, sharing information through LP Magazine’s print and digital channels, and methods for recruiting new LP employees.
“As criminals become smarter and embrace new technologies and processes to inflict pain on retailers, LP managers in Latin America need to move to a higher level of proficiency to address these issues. The LP summit in Mexico is an example of how LP executives can come together to share their experience,” said Miguel Calo, Checkpoint’s vice president and director general LATAM. “I thought the discussion this year proved beneficial to everyone with a number of valuable best practices the attendees could take back to their companies. I hope this format can be duplicated in other countries throughout Latin America.”
For more information about the US-Mexico LP Summit, contact the author at JackT@LPportal.com or Checkpoint’s Mexico director, Mohamar Silva, at Mohamar.Silva@checkpt.net.