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Shop Shutters

Hillaldam Coburn, of New Malden, Surrey, on shopfront physical security measures.

Hillaldam Coburn, of New Malden, Surrey, on shopfront physical security measures.

In pre-shopping centre days roller shutters became ? and still are -popular on the High Street as a means of offering overall shopfront security. The shop front itself, the glass, the contents ? all secure behind an effective, but cumbersome, roller shutter. An excellent piece of equipment, but a complicated one with too many moving parts, heavy roller mechanisms (both manual and mechanical) and prone to getting stuck half-open. Nor could you ever say they are pretty, but they do their job in a ?brutal? sort of way and are still popular both on the High Street and with corner shops on housing estates across the country. In a sense, they epitomise the need for security in high-crime areas and, in addition to being secure, one cannot deny they also offer the graffiti artist an expansive ?canvas?! Come the undercover shopping centre, or shopping mall, security needs change ? but this is where we in the UK appear to have failed to come to grips with a new situation. In the first place, shopping centres, by their very design, are enclosed and therefore unlikely to be targeted for break-ins and ram-raiding in the same way High Street premises are. There is no quick in-and-out route by foot, over rooftops or by getaway car for the thief. There are on-site security guards, cameras are recording the action and, in the event of a breach of security, exits can quickly be secured.

Secondly, in most other parts of the world where shopping malls are established, the concept of the shop front as we know it has given way to an open invitation to walk in. There, the walkways and the shop entrances virtually merge ? no doors, no pillars and often with identical floor patterns actually leading off walkways into stores. The whole atmosphere is designed to draw customers into premises, to make them open and inviting. In this country, however, we have simply brought our shops, complete with their shopfronts, under cover and called them shopping centres. As a result, the old ideas of using roller shutters persist, although in reality they are not necessary. In fact, they do a disservice in what is an already-secure environment, but which is often part of a complex with car-parks, theatres, cinemas and restaurants, by hiding the shop?s merchandise from late-night passers-by. What retailers should be considering under these circumstances, is a type of security that will resist all but the most fierce forced entry attempts, whilst retaining an aesthetic appearance and allowing people still to view the merchandise on display. Then, during shopping hours, the product can slide away to one side, into a purpose-built recess and remain out of sight throughout trading hours. Typical is Coburn Glidemaster. It has a massive share of the market in North America and parts of the Far East where shopping malls are huge. There, the whole concept is different, with most shops displaying a complete lack of doorways of any sort, no pillars (essential for roller shutters) and no unsightly rolled shutters and mechanisms at ceiling height. In all, the much more inviting and customer-friendly environmental we were talking about earlier. What the shopper doesn?t see during shopping hours are the decorative sliding closures like Glidemaster that are hidden away to one side. Top-hung from an aluminium track, this type of system needs no floor channel or tracking (notorious rubbish collectors) nor supporting pillars of any kind, and can lock securely at the point of closure, as well as at other predetermined points by engaging sockets fitted with spring-loaded dust proof closures.

Construction is essentially of vertical, hinged sections, narrow enough to enable the closure to glide smoothly around curves and corners, quickly and quietly. Sliding closures are often significantly less expensive than any other shop-front system (including traditional glazed, sliding glass or roller shutter) and they are effectively maintenance-free. Another advantage is the upright profile, much better at opening and closing times when staff and customers can come and go, without having to limbo dance in and out. Not always easily for larger people or those with disabilities, nor for anyone with heavy bags or pushchairs. At the end of trading, Coburn Glidemaster can simply be pulled across the entrance and locked into place. The variety of designs, some allowing a high degree of merchandise visibility, others less so, and others featuring either tempered glass or shatter-resistant polycarbonate, makes Glidemaster acceptable in an immense variety of environments, invariably complementing the effect the retailer wishes to create. In contrast, UK airports have readily adopted this method of security, as have many in-store franchises and concessions, as well as bars in hotels and clubs. Again, the environment is customer friendly, and Glidemaster can provide a sufficient deterrent effect within the existing conditions.


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