“My only regret with my career is that I didn’t find this job 20 years ago, although I don’t think I would have been right for the job if I hadn’t had my experiences along the way,” says Greg Brumley, Vice President of Asset Protection and Facilities for Lululemon, the athletic apparel company that’s based in Vancouver, Canada, with 400 retail stores across North America.
Brumley’s past positions included loss prevention roles and executive protection roles at Walmart U.S. and Walmart Indonesia, Starbucks, T-Mobile and Coinstar. Each role was fulfilling, he notes, as he had opportunities to build loss prevention programs from the ground up.
Of Lululemon, he says, “I love this place, the job, who I report to, our products and Vancouver, British Columbia, where I spend most of my time. It’s been a wonderful experience and my role has been a cool mix between the facility side and the asset protection side of the business.”
Another reason that he enjoys his current role is the C-suite support. “I’ve got enormous support in the business and strong relationships across all departments. My supervisor and boss is the COO. One of my strengths in this place and one of the reasons I call myself the ‘Un-Security Guy’ is that I’m an easy-going person, and I connect with people, including the people here at Lululemon.”
He also enjoys working in the retail sector, in general, noting, “The security environments for retail mean that you need to keep your risks outside. And that’s difficult, because in the retail world we let our risks inside our front doors every single day. We also get to experience so many different areas, from health and safety, organized retail crime, inventory variance and managing shrink in the retail stores.”
Mitigating organized retail crime (ORC) is one area that Brumley spends much time and resources on. “It’s frustrating that they [alleged thieves] will get arrested and quickly released and then go back out and try to steal from us again. We are challenged to think creatively about how we combat their efforts, by working with law enforcement and as well as other retail loss prevention groups to create strategies within our own stores to make it harder for them to attack us.”
Many retailers, including Lululemon, don’t allow their loss prevention or store employees to chase down alleged thieves, due to liability issues. Therefore, once an alleged thief passes all points of sale and the front door, they are off limits. Many companies may terminate an employee who violates that policy, which makes mitigating ORC all the more frustrating, Brumley says. “That’s where the real violence will happen. It’s too risky outside the stores, so most big retailers don’t allow their loss prevention teams to pursue thieves.”
Partnerships with fellow retailers is critical to mitigate ORC, Brumley explains. “There are many retailers that are in the same position regarding ORC,” he says. “So it’s critical to work closely with them to build task forces, share information and to send information to law enforcement to create a more powerful case when you secure an arrest. It takes time, and it’s painful to go through it, but we know that, ultimately, we will catch them.”
While ORC is a great challenge, Brumley is seeing success with efforts to reduce shoplifting and internal shrinkage. “We are building security into our stores without taking away from the aesthetics and ensuring that customers don’t feel like they’re being watched or looked at over their shoulders.”
And while he has great C-suite support, Brumley still focuses on showing his team’s value. “Part of it is building trust so that when you commit to something and you deliver on it you build up a bank account of trust. I take that very personally because I don’t want to squander that trust. When I’ve been asked to do something I am really careful about ensuring that I’m delivering on the commitment that I’m making. Therefore, my team is viewed as true partners for the business. We are doing our part to increase profitability. I’m gratified that we’ve built that reputation here.”
In his free time, Brumley enjoys spending time with his family. He is also an avid bike rider, indoors and outdoors via spinning classes, which fits in well with the Lululemon culture. “Our internal culture is an emphasis on health and fitness,” he says. “We do team yoga and other sports. I joke that there’s peer pressure here to be physically fit, which is fine with me. I think that I’ve added 10 years to my life by coming to work here because there’s such a strong focus on health and fitness.”
- Supply Chain Security
- Organized Retail Crime
- Retail Shrink