Hughes and Hughes gains control of security monitoring and achieves remote visibility of in-store activity
Hughes and Hughes, Ireland's fastest-growing bookstore chain, required a cost-effective surveillance system to provide easy access to high quality images which could be used as evidence in cases of theft, vandalism or fraud across ten airport-based outlets including six at Dublin Airport. The system needed to be straightforward to install and integrate with the airport's existing IT network infrastructure.
OmniSys is Hughes and Hughes' IT consultancy, responsible for supporting and developing the chain's IT infrastructure. OmniSys first installed four AXIS 205 network cameras from Axis Communications as a trial at the Shannon Airport bookstore in 2003. Installed within one day, the staff at the store could operate the cameras through AXIS Camera Station with a further half-day of training. This convinced Mark Gould, Hughes and Hughes' Managing Director, to replace their ageing CCTV system across its six Dublin Airport outlets. OmniSys has now installed 21 Axis network cameras, carried over the airport's IT network and controlled through a PC running AXIS Camera Station.
Hughes and Hughes eliminated a €3,000 per month surveillance monitoring fee through abandoning their previous CCTV system at Dublin Airport. The IP-Surveillance system has also helped to convict an intruder who attempted to break in to a store's cash office, and helped avert several bogus insurance claims. Through a secure web portal, senior managers can view any of the store network cameras to get an instant view of trading at any particular store.
"In a 12-month period we would typically expect to have two fraudulent insurance claims, where an individual will appoint a ‘no-win, no-fee' lawyer to sue us for negligence due to some alleged accident on our premises which hurt their client. Having crystal-clear, easily accessible footage of any alleged incident quickly throws these claims out of court. On low-level crime - we had an individual writing graffiti in a lobby area in one of our stores. It was caught on camera, our staff was alerted and we caught the culprit - with the recorded evidence ready to hand over to the police." Mark Gould, Managing Director, Hughes and Hughes.
Managing a fast-moving business
Hughes and Hughes is Ireland's fastest-growing bookstore chain, currently with 18 stores in Ireland and one store in the UK. It has a mix of high street and shopping centre stores, plus ten airport book stores: six at Dublin airport, two at Cork and one each at Shannon and London City airports. It also won a contract as the exclusive bookseller at London Heathrow Terminal 5, and overall is looking to expand to 50 stores within the next five years.
As with any retail business, shrinkage, the loss of stock primarily through theft, needs to be controlled, as does cash handling and storage. Hughes and Hughes also needs to protect its staff from potential abuse and violence. Across its network of stores, Hughes and Hughes, prior to 2003, could not afford to equip every store with analogue CCTV and chose to focus on its six Dublin airport outlets. This analogue system had a capital cost of €35,000 and was managed by an external surveillance company at an additional cost of €3,000 per month. It delivered poor quality, black and white images recorded onto VHS, with the images typically too low quality to be submitted as evidence. OmniSys conducted a successful trial with four Axis network cameras and AXIS Camera Station at its Shannon airport in 2003 and then installed an IP-Surveillance system to new stores in Dundalk and Wexford.
Dublin airport is undergoing major redevelopment, with a terminal extension project currently being built plus a brand new €395 million terminal starting construction during spring 2007. Hughes and Hughes is also refurbishing its airport outlets, completing three re-fits and installing Axis network cameras in each refitted store. By 2008, Hughes and Hughes will have seven outlets at Dublin airport, and is looking to open stores within the new terminal.
In the largest of the three stores with network cameras, OmniSys fitted nine AXIS 216FD Fixed Dome Network Cameras using Power over Ethernet, which provides power to the cameras via the network. It also has Axis network cameras at its cash and administration offices and at a bonded warehouse located a mile away from the airport site. In addition to the security benefits of IP-Surveillance, being able to monitor the business remotely through a secure web browser has been a great benefit to Hughes and Hughes. Seeing the trading on the shop floor is critical to managers - and they can view images of their stores on a PDA or laptop to check on trading throughout the day or night.
Mark Gould, Managing Director, Hughes and Hughes concluded: "Thanks to the network cameras from Axis, I typically watch trading across our stores for about an hour or two per day. It allows me to see the business more frequently; I can see whether our promotions are displayed correctly and are attracting interest. I can get a feel for customer numbers on different days or times of day. I see our staff at work - if I check the airport shops in the morning I can see how our staff are coping with the rush of early commuters queuing for a book or a newspaper. There is no better tool for gauging the success of our business. The information I get from what I see helps me make more informed management decisions."