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Director of retail and logistics

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Peter Egan is director of retail and logistics at Mitie’s total security management business.
December 19, 2014


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Security Officers in Retail: How Broad Should their Remit be?

Are we expecting too much from our retail and shopping centre security officers?

Or are the diverse requirements for multi-skilled, multi-talented, customer-facing front-line security now a must have?

Feeling safe and secure in a shopping or leisure environment makes for a happy customer experience and increased footfall for our clients. Therefore it is important that our role is not to drive away shoppers by our presence, but to assist in drawing in custom by creating a safe environment.

However, are the military-style uniforms giving way to designer suits and blazers and a more approachable security officer? This may explain why my weekend shopping trips with my wife include a game of ‘spot the security officer’.


For some time we’ve been seeking a balance between a soft approach and a visible deterrent. Can there be an appropriate mix which satisfies the requirements of customer service?

Is it far more of a service failure to see a shoplifter walk free or an unsmiling security officer fail to assist a floundering shopper? Are both equally as important?

Similar questions can be applied to pubs and clubs, which necessitates a more visible and frontline deterrent. The designer suits are hung up and out come the stab vests, utility belts and more practical attire for this environment.

So do we expect the sometimes unachievable: a concierge/door supervisor/security officer/CCTV-trained operator rolled into one person? Or do we have a mixed team with individual security and customer service skills deployed purely on a risk-based approach?

I would suggest that the latter is commonplace but the ultimate is achievable after witnessing this on a daily basis within our Mitie teams.

We use multi-skilled officers, but for a specific customer service or guest relations role we can engage our colleagues in client services to enhance the service requirement.

Up-skilling to nurture and hone multi-skilled talents is both important and supportive to service delivery and officer guidance to meet our industry and customer challenges. We all wish we could clone the ultimate officer, but reality is somewhat more complicated and regular review is important.

Finally: we are all customers, so how would you treat yourself?


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January 1, 2015 12:27 pm

But the point is this; if I’m a ‘multi-skilled, multi-talented, customer-facing front-line’ class act, do I want to slave away day in day out for pathetic wages, apprehending the same smelly shop-lifting scumbags, in many cases putting my own well-being in danger???
I think not. Give me a nice warm corporate job any day of the week. Retail security is the domain of useless doppos who are fit for nothing else.