aNb Media News, January 8, 2015

Ravensburger Acquires Brio

The Ravensburger Group has acquired Swedish toy company Brio AB from its investor Proventus. According to the company’s statement, the acquisition will enable the Ravensburger Group to strengthen its position as a toy company. Brio benefits from the acquisition because of Ravensburger’s international presence. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“The purchase of Brio is consistent with Ravensburger’s strategy of increasing growth abroad and expanding from the games market into the toy market,” said Karsten Schmidt, chairman of Ravensburger in a statement.

Within the Ravensburger group Brio will continue to operate as an independent subsidiary based in Malmö under its existing management. The acquisition also includes the company Alga, the Swedish market leader in board games. Proventus has owned Brio for more than 10 years and has enabled the company to revitalize its brand, leading to profitable growth for the wooden toy business, according to Ravensburger. Brio’s product line consists of more than 200 high-quality wooden toys.

“We are pleased that Brio will join the Ravensburger group,” said Heikki Takanen, chairman of Brio Holding AB, in a statement. “This will add new long-term opportunities and accelerate growth.”

NRF Says Billions Lost Due to Return Fraud

According to the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) 2014 Return Fraud Survey completed by loss prevention executives at 60 retail companies representing grocery, department, discount, specialty, and small retailers, the industry will lose an estimated $10.9 billion to return fraud this year. Additionally, of those surveyed, retailers estimate $3.8 billion will be lost to return fraud this holiday season alone, up slightly from last year’s $3.4 billion, according to the NRF. Overall, retailers polled estimate 5.5 percent of holiday returns are fraudulent, similar to last year’s 5.8 percent, says the survey.

According to the survey, nearly all (92.7 percent) of the retailers polled say they have experienced the return of stolen merchandise in the last year, similar to last year’s 94.8 percent. Organized retail crime continues to present significant challenges for retailers, more than three-quarters of those polled (78.2 percent) say they have experienced return fraud through returns by organized retail crime groups, up from 60.3 percent last year.

The survey found more retailers this year said they experienced return fraud with the use of e-receipts (18.2 percent versus 15.5 percent last year). The survey also found a significant jump in the number of retailers who say they have experienced the return of merchandise purchased with fraudulent or stolen payment methods (81.8 percent versus 69 percent last year).

Additionally, one-quarter (25.5 percent) of the retailers surveyed said they have witnessed fraudulent returns using counterfeit receipts, down slightly from 29.3 percent last year; eight in 10 (81.8 percent) retailers surveyed report that they’ve dealt with employee return fraud or collusion with external sources, down from 93.1 percent last year.

One of the biggest issues for retailers is the practice of “wardrobing,” or the return of used, non-defective merchandise such as special occasion apparel and certain electronics. Though many companies have employed specific tactics to curb this practice, nearly three-quarters (72.7 percent) of retailers polled say they have experienced wardrobing in the past year, up from 62.1 percent last year.

Retailers estimate that 14.1 percent of the returns made throughout the year without a receipt are fraudulent and as a result, 70.9 percent now require customers returning items without a receipt to show identification. Even when a receipt is present, more retailers polled this year say they ask for identification (25.5 percent versus 12.3 percent last year.) Overall, retailers report a small percentage of online purchases returned to their stores to be fraudulent (3.5 percent).

Additional findings show that 72.7 percent of those polled said they have witnessed an increase in gift cards/store merchandise credit fraud in the past year. Nearly four in 10 (38.2 percent) surveyed said they have witnessed an increase in return fraud with the use of credit cards, although 45.5 percent report no change in fraudulent credit card usage from last year. Additionally, three in 10 (30.9 percent) said they’ve witnessed an increase in debit card fraud.

Eighty-seven percent of those polled said they allow customers to return merchandise bought online to their brick-and-mortar stores, up from 82.5 percent last year.

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