The report that shoplifting costs UK retailers £4.4bn a year, with over a third of losses caused by employee theft, is a chilling reminder of the problems I encounter as a retailer. If I were asked what were the three most challenging things I have had to face in my 20-odd years of retailing, I would say staff theft, shoplifting and red tape.

Staff theft isn't simply about the financial loss; it's the betrayal of the trust you place in your staff.

Not a year has gone by when I do not dismiss someone for dishonesty. The whole process is demoralising and time-consuming, from identifying the problem, investigating it and then dealing with it. Unfortunately, employment law no longer allows me to simply show people the door with a kick up the backside.

There are measures you can take to minimise staff theft, but little you can do to stop it, and I fear that in the current climate it will only increase.

Collusion is the greatest problem and hardest to identify. I recall a cashier serving a family member with a large basket of goods including whisky and giving £18 change from a £20 note.

Covert cameras alerted me to that and the member of staff was greeted by the police at the start of the next shift.

The report also states that the average shopper pays £180 a year towards the cost of losses. It's the assumption that all retailers have factored the losses into their pricing that can almost be a justification for some people to steal.

I have not done this and would welcome any ideas as to how I account for the loss incurred by the drug-user who clears my shelves of bacon to sell to fuel their habit.

On a positive note, I would like to mention the staff who have worked for me with honesty and loyalty for many years. They are the unsung heroes of businesses up and down the country.