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Cyber security incident closes some of The Works’ stores and delays online and store deliveries

Image courtesy of The Works

A cyber security incident has forced The Works to close some of its stores and caused delays to store and online deliveries. The discount multichannel retailer has reassured customers that their payment data is safe and that its systems are now getting back to normal so that they can shop safely both online and in-store. However it does not yet know what other data may have been compromised in the attack, and has notified the Information Commissioner’s Office.

The Works says its payment systems were not affected since all of its payments are processed outside its systems through authorised third-party networks. “There is no risk that this payment data has been accessed improperly,” says The Works in a statement today.

It adds: “While payment data has not been compromised, it has not yet been possible to establish the full extent to which any other data may have been affected. Therefore, as a precautionary measure, we have informed the Information Commissioner’s Office.”

Limited disruption to operations

The discount retailer says that unauthorised access to its computer systems did result in “limited disruption” to its operations. It has closed some stores because of issues with their tills, while store replenishment deliveries were suspended temporarily and online delivery periods have been extended. Deliveries to stores were expected to resume soon and normal online service levels are starting to be reintroduced. At the time of writing, the retailer promised standard delivery in four days, but next-day delivery and store collection were not available.

The Works says it responded to the hack by disabling internal and external access to systems including email. It has also brought in forensic cyber security experts to investigate the event and carry out recovery work. Immediate changes have been made to strengthen security.

The retailer, ranked Top100 in RXUK Top500 research, says the incident is not expected to have a significant effect on either its forecasts or its financial position. The retailer said in January that it expected full-year 2022 earnings to come in at about £15m. As of October 2021, the retailer traded from 526 shops. It’s understood that about five of them are currently closed as a result of the incident.

The Works is investing in both its fulfilment capacity and in its store systems as part of a strategy focused on the multichannel customer experience. Ecommerce grew quickly during Covid-19 trading restrictions and beyond. In the 11 weeks to January 16 2022, online sales were 71.9% higher than in the same period two years earlier.

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