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One NZ Shuts Auckland Store Over Staff Safety Concerns

Representational Image | Photo: RNZ / Nate McKinnon

One NZ, previously known as Vodafone and one of the nation’s leading telecommunications firms, has closed its busy downtown Auckland store due to concerns for staff safety, while continuing to pay the rent.

For the first time, the company’s top executives are publicly addressing the increasing aggression and violence their employees face in stores across the country.

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“We’re now encountering these incidents a few times a week. This could involve customers physically confronting staff or someone entering with a knife and cutting through cables to steal devices,” said Chris Fletcher, One NZ’s chief consumer and business officer, in an interview with Markets with Madison.

The situation has seen a significant escalation, Fletcher noted.

In one recent incident, the manager of One NZ’s Sylvia Park store was grabbed by the scruff of his neck for about 10 minutes by an irate customer over a refusal to accept the return of a used device.

To address these issues, staff have undergone security training, received counselling, and have access to in-store panic buttons. Fletcher mentioned that these safety measures cost retailers millions of dollars annually.

Police report that retail crime costs businesses $1 billion each year.

Many retailers are now turning to technology as a first line of defence, using solutions provided by Auckland-based company Auror. Auror’s crime-fighting software enables retailers to report incidents swiftly, share information with the police, and alert nearby stores. It also notifies staff when known thieves enter their premises, or forecourts in the case of petrol stations.

Auror’s clients include The Warehouse Group, Briscoe Group, and international giants like Walmart and BP. Phil Thomson, speaking to Markets with Madison, noted that Auror’s revenue has grown by about 150 percent annually over the past three financial years. He believes their technology can help reduce retail crime rates.

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