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Gieves & Hawkes Installs RFID to Prevent Shrinkage, Track Inventory

The U.K. men's wear retailer is using a solution from Catalyst to invisibly secure the doorway at its two newest stores, and to make sure its products are always in stock.
By Claire Swedberg
Apr 05, 2016

To improve inventory visibility and prevent loss, men's clothing retailer Gieves & Hawkes has deployed a radio frequency identification system at its store in Birmingham, England. The solution tracks goods as they are received and stored in the back room or store front, then prevents unpurchased merchandise from being taken out the front door by sounding an alert, as well as storing data regarding which item is being removed. The company is expanding its RFID deployment to its newest store, located in of Hackney, an East London borough. The technology is provided by RFID solutions company Catalyst. Both Gieves & Hawkes and Catalyst are owned by Li & Fung.

Gieves & Hawkes is a high-end men's custom and ready-to-wear clothing retailer based in London, with more than 200 stores in China alone, as well as eight stores in the United Kingdom. The company was founded in 1771, making it one of the world's oldest tailors. Britain's royal family and royal military have worn its custom suits and clothing for several centuries. (Gieves & Hawkes did not respond to requests for comment.)

At the Gieves & Hawkes store in Birmingham, three Keonn EAS AdvanSafe readers are installed above the ceiling near the doorway.
The Birmingham store, which opened in the Mailbox mall five months ago, features an entranceway that measures about 4 meters (13.1 feet) in width and opens directly into the mall's interior. That makes the high-value items within the store at risk of theft, so providing security for those products is important. At the same time, the store didn't want to install visible antennas or electronic article surveillance (EAS) devices that could interfere with the store's aesthetic.

The retailer faces another challenge that made RFID a desirable technology: ensuring that its merchandise is always in stock. Gieves & Hawkes sells ready-made products that it strives to have on hand at all times. The store, however, is not large enough to maintain high volumes of each size of every item. As such, ensuring that goods are replenished as they are sold is imperative.

The company began working with Catalyst in 2015, and opted to install the technology for the new store's debut. The goal, says Lee Adams, Catalyst's marketing director, "was very discreet security and inventory management." RFID-based EAS technology, he explains, can not only trigger an audible alert if an unpurchased item is being removed from the store, but also indicate what that item is. "It's not just a dumb bleep," he says. "There is some intelligence behind it." This intelligence includes not only replenishment information, but also analytics. Since store management has a record of what is being removed, it can take action to better prevent the removal of those items.

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