WH Smith

Date Added 28.09.15

The high street stores sell a wide range of newspapers, magazines, stationery, books and entertainment products, whereas the travel stores favour a tailored range of newspapers, magazines, books and confectionery products for people on the move.

The company employs over 17,000 staff in the UK serving an estimated 70% of the country’s population each year (around 1.2 million customers per day).

“As you can imagine security and health & safety are big concerns for us”, said Brian Cottrell, Crime and Facilities Manager, WH Smith PLC. “With so many customers in our stores each day we need to be extra sure to have a safe environment whilst guarding against shoplifting and other crimes. That’s why we use professional two-way radio systems in our larger premises.”

In 2001, Brian decided to consolidate all of the contracts for radio systems that had evolved over previous years into a single nationwide managed service agreement with one supplier.

The supplier would need to be able to manage all of the WH Smith internal request/authorisation process as well as the supply and maintenance of specified radio handsets for the stores. This included taking over management of existing contracts with other suppliers until they terminated.

 “The competition to win this contract was fierce,” commented Brian. “We were already dealing with a large number of suppliers, most of whom wanted to win the national agreement. However, one supplier stood out from the crowd with their open approach to delivering the service in just the right way. And that was Resound”.

Resound had been the sole supplier of radio systems to all of the John Menzies stores in England when WH Smith acquired them in 1998 and had continued the service.

“Through the John Menzies agreement Resound already had years of experience of delivering a managed service that went beyond simple equipment supply," added Brian. “This gave me a lot of comfort that they could reliably scale up to the WH Smith level.”

When Resound were awarded the contract there were over 200 stores using some form of two-way radio system. Within just a few months Resound had managed a non-disruptive handover of contractual management for these stores and had swapped out a considerable amount of obsolete equipment.

“One of the aspects of the consolidated approach that we valued highly was moving away from renting radio equipment,” said Brian. “Resound had the job of working with each of the previous equipment suppliers and negotiating a smooth handover. Despite the number of existing contracts in place, they did an excellent job of this - and very quickly too.”

Also covered by the new national agreement was the management of WH Smith’s participation in local community radio schemes, often called ShopWatch, in which retailers and other businesses with a high street presence share a radio network to pass on urgent security information.

“Dealing with all of the ShopWatch schemes is very time consuming simply because of the number and diversity of them.” continued Brian. “Resound taking this on for us has saved a lot of resource and complexity from our side, but hasn’t reduced our ability to participate in and benefit from them.”

After three years of operation WH Smith decided to review the arrangement with Resound.

The decision was to renew without change.

“Resound were doing such a good job that we decided to keep the arrangement running unchanged,” added Brian. “They had been readily providing me with the level of information detail that I need to be sure that they were doing a good job. And feedback from the stores had always been very positive.”

Since then use of two-way radio systems has grown and Resound now manage the supply and maintenance for over 300 WH Smith stores right across the UK.

“I’m extremely pleased with Resound and their whole approach to doing business with us,” concluded Brian. “They keep me very well informed - specifically about the status of radio equipment in our stores as well as more generally about changes in two-way radio technology that might affect us. Clearly we made the right choice in 2001 when we chose Resound as our strategic partner for two-way radio supply and maintenance. Long may it continue.”