FINANCE

NRF Welcomes Organized Retail Crime Bill

BY CSA STAFF

Washington D.C. The National Retail Federation (NRF) and the Food Marketing Institute welcomed Tuesday’s introduction of legislation that would make organized retail crime a federal offense. The bill is an attempt to stop this growing problem that costs retailers and consumers as much as $30 billion a year, and threatens public safety through the sale of tainted goods.

Organized retail crime rings typically target consumer products that are in high demand, such as infant formula, razor blades, batteries, analgesics, cosmetics and gift cards, as well as DVDs, CDs, video games, designer clothing and electronics. Stolen goods are often resold at pawnshops, flea markets, swap meets and on the Internet—a growing source to move fenced merchandise.

Besides forcing retailers to increase prices to cover the losses, these thefts threaten public health when crime rings tamper with consumable items’ expiration dates, packaging or labels.

Rep. Brad Ellsworth, D-Ind., and co-sponsor Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, introduced the Organized Retail Crime Act of 2008 to fight these thefts. The bill defines organized retail crime as “the acquiring of retail merchandise by illegal means for the purpose of reselling the items.” And it makes such activity, including transportation, sale or receipt of stolen retail goods, a federal crime.

The bill has thorough provisions. For example, sale of stolen or counterfeit gift cards, or items with fake Universal Product Codes or Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chips would be considered fraud.

It also claims that operation of online marketplaces, such as auction sites, can be considered “facilitation” of organized retail crime unless the operator can show that specific steps had been taken to ensure that goods being sold were not obtained by theft or fraud. Online marketplace operators could also be sued by any business whose stolen goods were sold.

Those found guilty of committing or facilitating organized retail crimes would be subject to appropriate existing fines, prison terms and forfeiture, and the legislation would require the U.S. Sentencing Commission to review its guidelines for cases involving such crimes.

Currently, retailers lose between $15 and $30 billion to organized retail crime each year, compared to the $18 billion in losses linked to robbery, larceny, burglary and auto theft, according to the FBI Uniform Crime Report. In addition, 85% of retailers reported that they were victims of organized retail crime in the past year, according to the NRF.

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Wal-Mart, WWF team up to protect forests

BY CSA STAFF

WASHINGTON & BENTONVILLE, Ark. Wal-Mart Stores joined the Global Forest & Trade Network, the World Wildlife Fund’s initiative to save the world’s most valuable and threatened forests. By joining the GFTN, Wal-Mart has committed to phasing out illegal and unwanted wood sources from its supply chain and increasing its proportion of wood products originating from credibly certified sources–for Wal-Mart stores and Sam’s Clubs in the United States.

With nearly half of the worlds forests already gone, action is urgently needed, said Suzanne Apple, WWFs vp for business and industry. Wal-Marts commitment to support responsible forestry answers that call to action. WWF welcomes the company to a global community committed to healthy business and healthy forests. 

The United States is the largest consumer of industrial timber, pulp and paper in the world. The United States is also among the top destinations for imports of wood from areas where illegal logging and trade are common, such as Indonesia, China and Brazil. Thus, the U.S. market is critical to protecting forests worldwide. Wal-Marts commitment includes the importation and sale of all wood-based products with an initial focus on wood-based furniture. Wal-Mart sources furniture from the Amazon, Russian Far East, northern China, Indonesia and the Mekong region of southeast Asia. These areas include some of the most biologically diverse places on earth, places that WWF is working to protect.

Within one year, Wal-Mart will complete an assessment of where its wood furniture is coming from and whether the wood is legal and well-managed. Once the assessment is completed, Wal-Mart has committed to eliminating wood from illegal and unknown sources within five years. The company will also eliminate wood from forests that are of critical importance due to their environmental, socio-economic, biodiversity or landscape values and that arent well-managed.

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Michaels names Crowley new cfo

BY CSA STAFF

IRVING, Texas Michaels Stores has announced that Elaine D. Crowley has been named evp and cfo of the company, effective Aug. 18.

Crowley was most recently senior vp, cfo and treasurer for The Bombay Co. During her 18-year tenure with Bombay, she had direct responsibility for accounting and control, financial planning and analysis, tax, loss prevention, risk management, internal audit, SEC reporting, investor relations and treasury. She also initiated processes to strengthen sales and financial forecasts, expense control, inventory management and cash flow to respond to changing financial needs of the business. Crowley is a CPA with a B.B.A. in accounting from Texas Christian University.

“As the largest retailer of arts and crafts in North America, I believe that Michaels has tremendous opportunities ahead as it continues to expand its global sourcing network and increase market share,” noted Crowley. “I am looking forward to joining the Michaels team and to contributing to its future success.”

“We are very excited to have a chief financial officer with Elaine’s background and experience join our team,” said Michaels ceo Brian C. Cornell. “In addition to her financial acumen, her understanding of supply chain, sourcing, and extensive retail experience make her a great fit for Michaels.”

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