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Time to upgrade

The John Lewis flagship store on Oxford Street, London, has had an upgrade of all its business protection systems. Part of the installation was Pelco by Schneider Electric Spectra HD cameras, supplied by the distributor Norbain SD. The retailer reports that the system has improved operations and security at the store, receiving good feedback from staff and police alike.

While the Oxford Street store had been using CCTV for many years, it was in need of modernisation. Mike Gleeson, Business Protection Development and Operations Manager at John Lewis, says: “We needed a system that would allow us to offer the best possible protection to our customers, partners, staff and overall business. It’s not just a matter of security for us, but also of safety. The store was going to be particularly busy over the course of the Olympics and at peak trade, and we wanted to ensure that we could monitor the store to help manage any issues with customer flow.”

Besides business protection, the store chain was looking for a system that could be scaled for use across the estate, which would be flexible enough to grow and adapt to changing demands. Mike says: “It’s no longer enough to view each store as a separate entity. We need to co-ordinate and monitor activity which will vastly benefit us in terms of operational management.”

Jeff Scott of NorthStar, Security Consultant for John Lewis, recommended using an HD IP system that could be run over a network and monitored remotely where necessary. Jeff says: “I’d originally suggested using IP back in 2006 when the technology was relatively new to serious CCTV. The head of business protection was very keen that we future-proof the systems and was very forward-thinking in his approach to finding a suitable solution. Over the years, we have perfected the use of IP technology for all new and refurbished John Lewis branches, including their new distribution hubs, corporate leisure facilities and call centres. To date, we have more than 2,000 IP cameras on the John Lewis IT infrastructure and the future using HD is very positive.”

As part of the 296-camera installation, Jeff specified 96 Pelco by Schneider Electric Spectra HD PTZ cameras, inside (S5118-FWO) and out (S5118-EG1) around the store. Jeff says: “These cameras deliver up to four times resolution over standard-definition IP cameras and are incredibly flexible as you can stipulate the bandwidth the cameras use. This allows us to balance the entire network, allowing all the different systems to work harmoniously together.” The cameras also benefit from 18x optical zoom and 960p resolution, allowing John Lewis to capture clear detail.

The installers were Oxfordshire-based Orion Security. Steve Taylor, Director of Orion, says: “An additional advantage of the Pelco by Schneider Electric cameras is that they offer an open platform and the high levels of integration that this store and, looking forward, other parts of John Lewis Estate requires. Because the image quality is so good, we’ve been able to reduce the number of cameras needed, and thus the cost, for John Lewis.”

Internally, false ceiling domes with Power over Ethernet (PoE) connection have been fitted in places containing higher value merchandise. The cameras are also protecting key back of house areas in secure locations. Steve says: “PoE is great, as it means that each camera doesn’t need a separate power supply. This has a number of advantages, not least of which are reducing the cost and time of the installation.”

External cameras keep a watch over Oxford Street and Cavendish Square and have already had feedback from the police thanks to the quality and clarity of the images they provide. Steve says: “The aesthetics of the cameras were also an important consideration. We needed them to strike the balance between being seen, whilst not detracting from the look of the store. Fortunately, Jeff’s design was ideal and they fit in perfectly.” With data cabinets on each floor, it is a simple job for extra cameras to be added to the system as required. Steve says: “We simply wire the cameras back to the cabinet which, in turn, is linked directly back to the control room. Norbain has provided us with excellent account management which is always instrumental in our winning business. We don’t just look for a supplier, we look for a partner who will be as involved in the project as we are. You can’t work to the tight deadlines the retail environment demands without this sort of partnership.” Steve likewise says of the CCTV manufacturer Pelco by Schneider Electric: “We had support 24-7. Because Pelco by Schneider Electric is an international company, we could call day or night and this was an important reason for choosing them in the first place. The project demanded a high level of integration across the system and Pelco by Schneider Electric was instrumental in ensuring the cameras were set up correctly.”

Mike Gleeson at John Lewis says of the new CCTV: “It has transformed our ability to detect and prevent crime. The quality of the images and ease of use of the system has allowed us to immediately benefit from the upgrade. Personnel in the control room can now liaise directly with their loss prevention partner colleagues on the shop floor, allowing for effective co-ordination of efforts.” And of the installers he says: “Orion has done an excellent job and is a highly regarded contractor to John Lewis. As always, I’ve been greatly impressed with the standard of their work and with the dedication with which they approach every job.”

The retailer’s plan now is to install similar security systems that run over the network into one to two stores each year. Mike says: “In terms of the cost of the security improvements we’ve made, we expect to see a return in between three to five years. Furthermore, because the system is so easy and flexible to extend and adapt, we’ll be using it to help keep our customers, partners and business safe for many years to come.”

About the installer
Orion Security offers CCTV, intruder alarms, access control, covert technologies and fire detection systems. Other retail customers include River Island, Waitrose and WH Smith. Head office is outside Oxford and a maintenance and service centre is on the outskirts of Bristol. Visit


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