At PRSM Roundtable, Retailers Share Facilities Management Challenges

The Professional Retail Store Maintenance Association (PRSM) recently hosted a roundtable discussion on managing facilities maintenance for retailers engaged in store operations across Europe and the rest of the world.

Held in Basel, Switzerland, and hosted by PRSM Member Fossil, Inc., the association's most recent International Retail Exchange attracted retail facilities professionals from 10 major brands, including Apple, Abercrombie & Fitch, Bose Corp., Fossil Inc., Group Europe GmbH, Dollar Financial Group, Inc., Gap, Guess? Inc., Triumph International, and Tumi.

PRSM members and non-members met to share common challenges and solutions in the form of best practices in specific areas, including vendor management, lighting, co-sourcing relationships, country-specific laws and labor requirements and trades maintenance.

Combined, the retailers in attendance manage more than 800 stores across Europe, including the UK, Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, France, Spain, Denmark, Portugal, Switzerland, Sweden and central Europe.

"Although the retail industry has a longer tenure of existence in Europe, some operational aspects of the business are more challenging than in North America due to country-specific requirements and the need for more vendors to do business across borders," said Paul Walsh, 2013-14 board liaison to the PRSM International Committee and director, strategic sourcing, Gap, Inc.

"Facilities professionals in North America have benefitted from a wealth of technological advancements, giving them insight into problems on a deeper level and to therefore institute change that is more effective and more lasting," he added. "Through these collaborative interactions we are optimistic that the industry as a whole will benefit."

Several retailers in attendance presented case studies, detailing specific problems they were solving across their network of stores in Europe.

General Maintenance issues across entire store network:
  • This fashion retailer was experiencing a high call volume for general maintenance requests to resolve a wide variety of issues, across its 160-store European footprint. They contracted with a multi-purpose vendor to visit all stores and fix a wide variety of problems, from plumbing issues to doors, shelving, HVAC, flooring and other complications to store appearance.
  • The program's success resulted in a reduction in repair orders in addition to a large amount of store data gathered in the process. This data is being used to help the FM team lower costs and get better organized around its lighting issues and needs.
Finding the right business model: continue with the outsourced team or bring the operation back in-house?

Not satisfied with its third-party outsourced arrangement for maintenance needs across its numerous UK stores, this fashion retailer identified a series of problems with its current arrangement. It was dissatisfied with pPoor visibility and lack of control; Inflexible agreements; excessive costs.

As a result, the retailer initiated a program to bring FM administration back "in-house" to
  • Gain transparency of costs and services
  • Increase flexibility – using specialists vs. a single vendor
  • Align suppliers with business goals and needs
After nine months the retailer reported better relationships between FM operations and store management, appropriate expertise and knowledge levels with its vendors, more accountability across the entire value chain and an estimated 20 percent future costs savings.

"Thanks to our ongoing international interaction, members are learning and sharing more of their FM experiences outside of North America, leading us to a greater understanding of the commonalities across the global landscape. With the exception of country-specific requirements, facilities professionals globally are dealing with many of the same issues and are deploying many of the same solutions," said Patricia Dameron, executive director, PRSM Association.
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